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Flavoring Food May Promote Weight Loss
Date:6/16/2008

Seasonings and sweeteners called 'tastants' help you feel full, study suggests

MONDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Boosting the flavor of your food with calorie-free seasonings and sweeteners may help you feel fuller faster and decrease the amount you eat, according to a U.S. study that suggests this may be a new way to help people lose weight.

The study of "tastants" -- substances that can stimulate the sense of taste -- included 2,436 overweight or obese people who were asked to sprinkle a variety of savory or sweet crystals on their food before eating their meals. They used the salt-free savory crystals on salty foods and used the sugar-free sweet crystals on sweet or neutral-tasting foods. The participants didn't know what the flavors of the crystals were, other than salty or sweet. The hidden flavors of the savory tastants were cheddar cheese, onion, horseradish, ranch dressing, taco, and parmesan. The flavors of the sweet tastants were cocoa, spearmint, banana, strawberry, raspberry and malt.

A control group of 100 people didn't use tastants. Both groups continued their normal diet and exercise habits during the study.

At the start of the study, the treatment group had an average weight of 208 pounds and an average body mass index (BMI) of 34, which is considered obese. After six months of using the tastants, the 1,436 people in the treatment group who completed the study lost an average of 30.5 pounds, and their BMI decreased by an average of five points.

In the control group, the average weight loss was two pounds, and the average BMI decrease was 0.3.

The findings were to be presented at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in San Francisco.

The people in the treatment group may have lost more weight than those in the control group, because the tastants made them feel full faster, and they ate less, suggested study author Dr. Alan Hirsh, founder and neurologic director of
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