Several companies have recently started to market inhalers, scent jars and crystals to be sprinkled on food, each of which creates a variety of different scents that are “sniffed” by the diner before consuming the food item. Supposedly these scents stimulate the “satiety center” in the brain which reduces the desire to eat. Significant weight loss claims are made for these products, but none have been objectively tested in a controlled clinical trial.
The Prescription Perspective:
These reports come as a huge surprise to many who were under the impression that smelling good food actually increases the desire to eat! The “appetite” and “satiety” centers of the brain are actually located in close proximity in the hypothalamus; however, they tend to respond quite differently to various biochemical and hormonal stimuli. Unsubstantiated claims about the efficacy of a diet related product should never be accepted without firm objective evidence from controlled scientific studies that support those claims. Nevertheless, empiric evidence seems to support both points of view. Certainly we have all had the experience of smelling delicious food and immediately wanting to have a taste. Conversely, there are occasions when the mere scent of food can turn us off and we don’t even want to think about eating. This is a subject that is still poorly understood and clearly in need of further research. Until the question is clarified, however, we advise avoiding any fad-type dietary add–ons which promise quick and easy weight loss without having to rely on diet and exercise.