Update (November 2014): When we covered this story in November 2010 we were skeptical of the product. In 2014 Sensa were fined for making “unfounded weight-loss claims and misleading endorsements.” and in November, four years after we first heard about the product, the business was closed.
The crystals are branded as the Sensa Weight Loss System, are already available across America and are due to be put on the shelves across Europe, Mexico and Canada in 2011.
The crystals are small enough to be scattered over food like you would sprinkle rock salt. Several artificial flavors are used to give off an aroma that helps you to feel full, such as cheese, horse radish and coffee.
Sensa describes itself as a natural weight loss system, which seems a little odd considering how manufactured it is.
Sensa’s Weight Loss Claim
You can eat all your favorite foods and still lose weight. Just sprinkle SENSA® onto your meals and snacks to safely and effectively lose weight without feeling deprived
Sensa describes its system as being “easy” and makes the statement that you can eat what you want and lose weight, up to 30 pounds no less, without feeling hungry. These are very bold claims indeed.
“Clinically Proven” Weight Loss Method
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 1436 people over 6 months produced the results that on average people using the Sansa Granules lost 30.5 pounds on average, whereas those given a placebo actually gained weight.
“Over the 6 month test period, those subjects applying tastant crystals to their meals demonstrated statistically significant greater weight loss compared to the placebo group” Source:TrySensa.com (pdf on research).
Of course, it does raise the question – if the smell of cheese, horse radish and coffee make you feel full and eat less, then why not just suggest that people eat more meals consisting of these ingredients? Maybe a minced beefburger with horseradish sauce washed down with a coffee would be more sensible?
The testimonials all simply say that you do not need to count calories, just lose weight by eating less food. The granules persuade you to stop eating.
Once again this product and the research that went with it really proves one very simple weight loss fact: to lose weight you need to eat less. The people in the studies were told not to change their diet or do any additional exercise. All they did was take Sensa and as a result they ate less food.
If you do not want to buy Sensa, but want to lose weight in the same way, just serve yourself smaller portions and find ways to distract your mind from hunger – exercise works a treat and gets you fitter too.
Dr Alan Hirsche is a neurologist and has invented tiny crystals which give off an aroma that tricks the brain into thinking the body if full. So really this is a form of aromatherapy.
This product may help some people to lose weight, but it seems really to be preying on the desperate. At best it is probably just a placebo. As more people start to use this product outside of trials it may become apparent that the results are not always as good. Only time will tell.
Scientific Research Papers
- Hirsch, A.R. and Gomez, R., Weight Reduction through Inhalation of Odorants, The Journal of Neurological and Orthopedic Medicine and Surgery, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1995.
- Hirsch, A.R., Use of Gustatory Stimuli to Facilitate Weight Loss, Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, Chicago, IL.
Update (Feb. 2014): The FCA concludes that they do not work and have fined Sensa $26.5 million for deceiving consumers with “unfounded weight-loss claims and misleading endorsements.”
Update (November 2014): From the Sensa website:
OPERATIONS FOR SENSA INC. AND SENSA PRODUCTS, LLC HAVE CEASED.
Sensa, Inc. and Sensa Products, LLC entered into Assignments for the Benefit of the Creditors under California state law on October 17, 2014. An Assignment for the Benefit of the Creditors is a form of insolvency under state law.
Crystals are more commonly associated with alternative therapies that are not based on any real science. However, it seems that crystals may actually aid weight loss.