Skin Patch May Reduce Chocolate Cravings

ByPatricia Reaney

L O N D O N, July 24, 2000 -- Help may soon be on the way forchocoholics.

Dieticians at St George’s Hospital in London said todaythey have tested a skin patch that releases whiffs of vanillaand other scents that help to reduce cravings for chocolates andother high-calorie sweet snacks.

People who wore the patch on the back of their hand in earlytests experienced a change in appetite and lost an average oftwo kilograms or 4.5 pounds.

Halves Chocolate Intake“It halved their intake of chocolate,” said CatherineCollins, the hospital’s chief dietician who led the study.

“Sugary drinks were also significantly reduced,” she addedin a telephone interview.

The dieticians randomly divided 200 overweight volunteersinto three groups which received either a vanilla patch, a lemon patch,a dummy patch, or no patch.

After four weeks the weight loss in the control groups —the lemon and no-patch groups — was only a fraction of the lossby people who wore the vanilla patch.

Collins, who will present her findings on Wednesday at the13th International Congress of Dietetics in Edinburgh, Scotland,is unsure how the vanilla patch works but she thinks it mayinfluence satiety.

No Impact on Fried Food

The research will also be submitted to a medical journal.

“We know that taste and aroma do have a feedback on brainbiochemistry fairly immediately to tell you to stop eating. Inpsychology literature there has been a lot of work on this, butit has never been applied to obese patients before,” sheexplained.

Although the patch reduced the urge for chocolate andsweets, it had no impact on fatty or starchy food or alcohol.

“There is some research that shows very sweet smellsrelease serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a mood chemicalthat makes you feel good, which is why chocolate also has thateffect. Its chemical content produces serotonin,” she added.

The vanilla is released from the patch and not absorbedthrough the skin. Although a few people said the smell made themfeel a bit nauseous, Collins said the patches do not cause anyserious side effects.

The patches will be available in Britain in September fromThe Aromacology Patch Company Ltd., and will be launchedinternationally within a year.

Liz Paul, who invented them, said although the patch smellsof vanilla it is actually a patented concoction of smells.

“It smells of vanilla but actually it is much morescientific. It is a cocktail of perfumes,” she said.

It is the first of five patches the company will produce.The second is designed to reduced cravings for fatty snacks, suchas fries or potato chips and others will deal with insomnia andpremenstrual stress or PMS.

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