Everyone has heard the commercials at least once. Sensa, the miracle supplement that will help you lose weight without resorting to a diet! Trainers and doctors have been inundated with questions about the supplement for years. Now, thanks to the FTC, the advertisements have stopped. Sensa marketing has been put on hold until the company can provide some evidence that their product works.
sensa-weight-loss-scamSensa was created through the research of Dr. Alan Hirsch, a board certified neurologist and psychiatrist. Dr. Hirsch’s research concerned the effect of certain smells and tastes on a multitude of human behaviors and diseases, including obesity. With this in mind, he created Sensa, which are “tastant” granules, meant to be sprinkled on top of food.
Dr. Hirsch uses the term ‘tastant’ in an effort to make his product stand out and feel unique. Sensa is claimed to “enhance the aroma of your food” and make you “feel full faster,” which is supposed to lead to weight loss.
These “tastant” granules are made of maltodextrin (derived from corn), tricalcium phosphate, and natural and artificial flavors, according to the SENSA® website (http://www.sensa.com). There are no active ingredients in the original version, although the new formula contains chromium. Unfortunately for Dr. Hirsch, Sensa ingredients do not have any weight loss effects, and there are no studies or research that back up the product.
The theory behind Sensa granules is legitimate, as the aromatic properties of food do heavily influence overall food intake. For example, rotting or fermented food reduces appetite through smell, whereas a combination of cinnamon and sugar is able to stimulate the appetite. Who doesn’t get distracted by the aroma of cinnamon buns? Though Dr. Hirsch’s premise is correct, his chosen molecules (like maltodextrin) do not have the intended effect.
How did Dr. Hirsch sell more than $360 million of Sensa products? It takes time for the FTC and FDA to assess claims. If a claim is deemed invalid, a cease and desist order is sent. When a company provides a vague and plausible claim, such as the concept that taste sensations change appetite, inevitable regulation is delayed. Between the time that a supplement hits the market and the FDA/FTC act, a hefty profit can be made.
Sensa is just one example of a practice that is, unfortunately, commonplace. New dietary supplements should always be thoroughly investigated before supplementation.
spencer_nadolskyIf the advertised molecule is new, then proper research is twice as important. Neutral and unbiased databases like Examine.com can go a long way toward establishing the truth behind new supplements.
About the Author
Spencer Nadolsky is the current Director of Examine.com and a practicing physician in Virginia. He is currently working on his board certifications in Family Medicine, Bariatrics, and Lipidology. Dr. Nadolsky tries to treat his patients with nutrition, exercise, and sometimes supplements while minimizing the need for pharmaceutical drugs (although they’re necessary sometimes). Visit Dr. Nadolsky online at: www.facebook.com/DrSpencerNadolsky
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