What if you could stare down a spread of cakes, cookies and sweets galore, without wanting a bite of anything?
A tiny new invention is hoping to help dieters deny dessert by changing the way sweet foods taste. A lozenge/gum called Sugarest temporarily numbs the sweet tooth, taking away the chewer's physiological ability to taste anything sweet for about 45 minutes.
"If you try to eat anything sweet, you just cannot taste it at all. Your receptor cells on your tongue are blocked," explained George Kontonotas, president of Genotec, the maker of Sugarest.
Marketed as "instant will power," Sugarest purports to numb taste buds long enough to get past a sweet craving, the idea being that if there's no reward for eating -- the taste -- there'll be no desire to eat.
"The truth of the matter is a lot of us can't say no to that all the time," Kontonotas said. "And if you are that type of individual, you can't say no, maybe this is a viable solution for that dilemma."
The active ingredient in Sugarest is an herb called gymnema sylvestre, which has been sold over the counter for years.
"What this is designed to do is, you chew the gum so when you eat the cake, you can't taste the sugar," said Dr. David Katz of Yale University's School of Public Health.
Taking the Taste Out of Temptation
"Good Morning America Weekend Edition" camped out in front of the popular New York City candy shop Dylan's Candy Bar to put Sugarest to the test.
Most chewers were disgusted by the "tasteless" gum, but one woman contemplated sticking some in her purse to stave off occasional sweet cravings.
"I'm tempted a lot of times during the week when I go out during the week with my girlfriends, so it would be good for that," she said.
Whether or not Surgarest works, doctors say it's not a real way to combat weight problems or obesity.
"I'm not sure that's its safe," Katz said. "I have no particular reason to think its unsafe -- but that's not a guarantee that when more people start exposing themselves to it we will start to see some dangers."
Sugarest's makers say the lozenge/gum is not in itself a weight-control diet -- it's a tool to ward off temptation by simply taking the sweet out of sweets.