The “On TV Today” section of the Shopping Channel’s home page lists some of the products they were selling today. One of today’s hot items was Sensa, a weight loss system that urges you to “Use your sense of taste and smell to help you lose weight”. I had to look.
The claims are that Sensa, with “patent-pending Tastant Technology”, makes your food smell and taste better so that your brain thinks it’s full. From the information on TSC’s pages:
“By enhancing flavor (sensory input), Sensa Tastants help to enable the brain-stomach connection and trigger the “feel full” signal. Essentially, Sensa works to assist you with your weight loss goals by eliminating the restrictions and drawbacks of dieting. With Sensa, you can eat all the foods that satisfy your senses. Because there are no food restrictions, you don’t have to deal with any intense food cravings or feelings of starvation.”
“When you first start on the Sensa program, the Tastants do all the work. Over time, you will begin to intuitively understand portion control and develop healthier eating habits, without having to give up any of your favorite foods.”
“You won’t feel jittery or anxious, there are no sugar, calories or MSG added, and less than 1mg of sodium.”
Riiight. According to the TSC site, the sprinkles in the shakers contain maltodextrin (a starch sweetener that is in some artificial sweeteners, including Splenda), tricalcium phosphate (an anti-caking agent?), silica (yummy indigestible powder, which presumably serves as filler), natural and artificial flavors (um, it isn’t supposed to have a flavour), FD&C Yellow 5 (why, if the product is white?), and carmine (a red food dye made from insects — not sure how that figures into white sprinkles either). The label also says it “contains Soy and milk ingredients”. Unless they’re hiding ingredients, one presumes that the maltodextrin is the Holy Grail, the ingredient that is supposed to lessen your appetite. Weird, that, especially since maltodextrin apparently frequently includes MSG.
It all sets my Spidey senses tingling. In general, I have problems with appetite suppressant products, not just because I don’t overeat when I’m hungry and not helped by having my appetite suppressed but because appetite suppressants, if they work for you, just become another crutch to lean on. They don’t teach you how to eat properly or how to take care of yourself well, and they don’t help you resolve the mental and emotional reasons for your obesity. Morbid obesity doesn’t happen just because people can’t control their hunger.