08/11/2010 05:32 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Weight-Loss Crystals Help You Eat Smaller Portions

Does your appetite spiral out of control at this time of year? Well you wouldn't be the only one, as the cold and dark conditions in winter make many people want to scoff sweet, stodgy comfort foods. The good news is that US diet experts have developed a new weapon against overeating.

Sprinkling crystals on food make you eat less Could sprinkling crystals on food make you eat less? Photo: Flickr, D Sharon Pruitt

Forget popping pills that claim they can help you want to eat less, the new way of controlling your appetite is to sprinkle flavour-enhancing granules on your food called Sensa crystals. According to the scientist who developed them, Dr Alan Hirsch, the crystals boost both the taste and smell of food.

But surely making your food taste and smell better might make you want to eat even more? Not according to Dr Hirsch, who's a neurologist at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago.

Taste and smell receptors are what tell your brain you're full, leading to the release of hormones that make you stop eating, he claims. So by enhancing the taste and smell of food, your brain thinks you're full faster than it would normally, and the end result is you eat smaller portions.

If that sounds just slightly barmy, then trials of the crystals involving obese people in the US proved successful, with volunteers losing an average of 2st over six months. But you'll have to wait until next year before the calorie-free crystals - which come in flavours such as cheese, horseradish and coffee - are available in the UK.

Will you be first in line to try the Sensa crystals when they're on sale here? Or are they just another weight-loss fad that nobody will remember this time next year?

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