Friday, January 3, 2014

Oh, patents! SENSA® weight loss system

Copyright © Françoise Herrmann

Between Thanksgiving, xmas and the New Year celebrations, including Hanukah and Kwanza, December is one month of very intense dining, feasting and banqueting!  So, here is an interesting new diet, which boasts some very satisfied customers, with before and after pictures showing and proving how much they have lost… relatively painlessly and effortlessly…!

The Sensa® diet is interesting because it does not require that you change or relinquish any of what you eat, nor does it require that you eat any special foods or drink any special shakes, on any particular complicated schedule, and in any specific portions or amounts.

All that you do to follow the Sensa® diet is “sprinkle” Sensa® tastants on everything that you eat. The tastants are 100% safe, containing no diuretics, no drugs and no stimulants. The Sensa® diet sprinkler kit includes salty and sweet tastants, so you can sprinkle the salty tastants on salty food, and the sweet tastants on your sweet food. The only important aspect of the diet is to remember to “sprinkle” the tastants on all that you eat….

Eventually… as every satisfied customer testifies, you eat less and you lose weight, so that the results become consistent with the diet small print which advocates “healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and portion control”.

So, how does it work, and is there a catch?...

There are three patents associated to this diet, and a dozen more connected to the larger context! The diet arises out of 25 years of medical research on the effects of smell and taste on various aspects of behavior, perception and emotion, carried out by Dr. Alan Hirsch (1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2006), a neurologist and psychiatrist, Director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, Ill, and faculty member at two institutions: The Department of Medicine at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, and the Department of Neurology and Psychiatry at Rush university Medical Center, both in Chicago, Ill.  

Here is what one of Dr. Hirsch’s patents, US2009123380, titled Method for assaying satiety-enhancing tastants, recites:
 “A third to a quarter of the American population is overweight…At any given time 40% of women and 24% of men are trying to lose weight…. In the USA, losing weight has become a national obsession. Over 30 billion dollars are spent each year devising a plethora of new diets….”…[0003]

Satiety (the feeling of fullness) is the opposite of hunger. Research on odorants (using inhalers before a meal or when hungry) corroborates the connection between smell and weight control, and what everyone knows intuitively or by experience: fresh baked cookies make you salivate (most of the time..), and the smell of gas makes you nauseated. However, the research carried out on odorants also uncovered the impracticability and conspicuousness of using an inhaler… before every meal. So the tastant invention comes as a solution to the problems of the otherwise successful odorant research on the regulation of weight. And, US2009123380 discloses what is marketed and known as “Sensa®”:
 “a tastant, which when applied to or admixed with food, is effective to enhance satiety (i.e.; feeling fullness), resulting  in reduced food (caloric) intake during a meal. The satiety-enhancing composition is preferably a dry, free-flowing powder that can be sprinkled on foodstuff  to be consumed, In one embodiment, the satiety-enhancing composting is a primarily a sweet tastant, In another embodiment, the composition comprises a primarily salty tastant”. [0013]
The invention further discloses the quantified effects of the satiety-enhancing tastants as follows:

“…the application of the satiety-enhancing composition to foodstuffs on a daily basis will effect a body weight loss of at least about 0.5 pound (lb) per month, preferably at least about 1 lb per month, preferably at least 3 lbs per month, to up to about 5 lbs per month, preferably up to about 10 lbs per month, preferably up to about 15 lbs per month, and preferably 5 lbs to about 20 lbs over an initial 6-month period, preferably up to 25 lbs, preferably up to 35 lbs” [0016]
Wow!... that’s lots of lost pounds!...

So what about the Sensa® composition, what are the ingredients?

On the sweet side, US2009123380 recites:
“Examples of sweet tastants that can be used to achieve the benefits of the invention include almond (benzaldehyde), anise, carob, cinnamon, cocao (natural cocao nibs), malt , peanut (roasted), pecan, pistachio (natural), peppermint, spearmint, and fruit-type tastants including apple, (natural apple) banana, fig, kiwi, orange (sweet orange peel) peach, raisin, raspberry strawberry, and the like, and mixtures or blends thereof” [0023]
On the salty side, US2009123380 discloses:
“Examples of salty tastants that can be utilized according ot the invention include artichoke, asparagus, avocado, basil, broccoli, celery seed, cucumber, fennel, garlic, horseradish, mushroom, mustard (seed), onion, Parmesan, pizza ranch, spinach, taco, white cheese (e.g. Romano), yellow cheese (e,g.; cheddar) and the like and admixture thereof”. [0023]
Yum! All of these ingredients may be derived naturally or synthetically produced… and may include a harmless, odorless and tasteless carrier. Per the disclosure of the invention: “Examples of such carriers include maltodextrin, dextrin, starch, methylcellulose, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, lactose and the like, with maltodextrin being preferred.” [0026]

The invention also specifies the quantities of the composition ingredients: “An exemplary satiety-enhancing composition comprises about 50% to 60% by weight tastant (dry powder for),, about 40 % to 50 % by weight maltodextrin (granulated), 0 to 1 %  by weight tricalcium phosphate, and 0 to about 3% by weight colorant, based on the total weight of the composition” [0030]

The packaging…of the ingredients (packets, capsules… bottles, lidded cylinders…shaker-type container…) [0031]

The foodstuffs to which the satiety-enhancing tastants may be applied (or sprinkled)….such as breads, pretzels, baked dishes…for the salty tastants,  and puddings, cakes or cookies for the sweet tastants. [0034]

The use of a different compositions of tastants every every month to vary the sprinkled tastants. [0036]


And the disclosure of the invention concludes with two examples [0038-0058; 0060-0073]: The first recites a protocol for a large-scale, open label study of the satiety-enhancing tastants which could involve 15,000 participants. The second examples recites the results of an actual open-label study, using the disclosed protocol of example 1, and involving 92 adults (73 females and 19 males) averaging a 197 lbs initial body weight. The results reported are modest with a weight loss (on average of -5.6 lbs) for a period of 6 months (or on average a weight loss of -3%) for the test group, compared to the control group weight gain of +1.1 lbs (or average weight gain of +0,6 lbs), but they suggest that the satiety-enhancing tastants work, “ as a way of inducing weight loss in those attempting to lose weight and can be integrated into a comprehensive weight loss program”. [0073]
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Understanding how tastants work, on a metabolic, neurological or other level, is probably not absolutely required … since evidently they do!

What matters however, and what makes this a beautiful invention (aside from how elegantly it is disclosed), is the novel approach to dieting consisting in “enhancing satiety” compared to all the restriction and appetite-suppression-based approaches to dieting of the Prior art.

Indeed, Sensa® is interesting, precisely because it restricts nothing, taking nothing away except pounds!.... Plus there is just enough time, 6 months till summer, when you will perhaps want to wear your itsy, bitsy bikini, or your cute Villebrequin® swim trunks! 

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More …
Hirsch, A. (1997) Guide to Scentsational Weight Loss. Element Books, Ltd.
Hirsch, A.  (1998)  Scentsational sex: The secret for using aroma for arousal. Element books Ltd. 
Hirsch, A. ( 2003)  Life’s a smelling success: Using scent to empower your memory and learning. Authors of unity Publishing.
Hirsch, A (2004) What your doctor may not be telling you about sinusitis. Relieve your symptoms and identify the real source of your pain. Grand Central Publishing.
Hirsch, A   (2006) What’s your food sign? How to use food clues to find lasting love.  STC - Stewart, Tabori and Chang.

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