Over the holidays I attended several family, friend, and neighborhood get-togethers. Of course, there was much food and drink, as expected during a time of the year when we all meet and eat. It’s the time of year I call the ‘Eating Season’ between Thanksgiving and Easter, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick Day, Easter as opportunities to meet and eat.
During one of these gatherings I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a nice mother and her teenaged daughter both of whom were obese. They were fun conversationalists.
They voluntarily shared with me their recent efforts at losing weight in using the product Sensa®, a product of crystals you sprinkle on your food to reach early satiety to make you feel full. Allegedly, it makes your taste buds send signals to your brain’s appetite center which in turns sends a hormone to the pituitary gland which in turn sends a signal to the brain telling the user they are full -- at which point the user presumably stops eating, taking in less calories than they otherwise would. I’ve seen the advertisement on television but was not aware of it’s popularity.
At any rate, during the course of afternoon, the teen and mother, both took out their Sensa and sprinkled, salt-shaker like, the crystals on everything on their plate, which contained no space between the food portions. Like mine, it was packed. It‘s the holidays. After finishing off this ‘first’ round, the teen returned to the buffet counter and dished out a pile of potato salad as tall as the Biloxi Lighthouse. Dutifully, the Sensa shaker appears and is
shaken even more vigorously over the soon-to-disappear (and quite delicious I might add) potato salad. By the way, as you may well know, warm potato salad can be quite addictive. For some reason, at least for me, even when I’m full after eating, warmed potato salad is like a culinary magnet of sorts. I can’t get enough.
At any rate, the mother did something similar. And interestingly they returned for a third trip to the kitchen buffet counter, each time raining a generous portion of Sensa onto the refills.
The science behind Sensa sounds fascinating but the main problem with it as a plausible proposal for this product to allegedly produce weight loss is that with this particular science no one has been able to validate or replicate the results. As with most legitimate medical claims from any research or experiment, the claim of its benefit is only valid if it can be replicated by others, especially independent researchers. This applies as well for vaccines, prescription medications, and medical procedures.
The main problem with this product is the seductive effect it has on users in deluding them into believing that they do not have to exercise or change their eating habits, two blatant orders in their slick marketing. There are absolutely no food restrictions and you don‘t need to include an exercise routine into your day or eliminate fatty foods. This defies the very two integral components in any successful weight loss program that is based on the basic fundamental, and repeatedly proven, equation of weight loss. Calories in must be less than calories burned, or vice versa. (If you keep eating what you’re eating, you’ll keep weighing what you weigh. What you and I weigh today is the net outcome of calories taken in and calories burned off. What you
eat today, you weigh tomorrow, assuming all things equal.)
This product, and others like it, in my opinion, take advantage of a weakness in human nature in wanting to take the least intrusive pathway, or input the least amount of energy, in achieving something, anything, but in this case weight loss. There’s no other way to describe the marketing ploy of such products, in my opinion, than to say it is seductive and deluding. People are more likely to spend their hard earned money on a product that has little or no value, as well as waste time that could otherwise be put to better use in losing weight. It’s a modern day example of the metaphorical snake oil, a product with exaggerated marketing, but questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit. No different than the traditional Chinese medicine (snake oil) used at the turn of
the 20th century allegedly claiming to treat joint pain.
The only conceivable benefit I see in this product is any placebo effect or increased awareness it may have on the user in increasing the user’s awareness to make the changes necessary (the calorie equation) to change lifestyle, walk more, and eat better. Like anything else that creates more awareness, (weigh
daily, read about weight loss daily, think about it daily, meditate/pray about it, etc.), if it moves you even a little bit down the path of change, then it is helpful. But, as of today, there’s been no scientific validation of the manner in which Sensa makes one reach early satiety.
But a product and program that declares that the user can bypass the mandatory equation of ‘calories in/calories burned’ is, in my opinon, a patently deceptive program. Study after study after study continues to bear out the unavoidable fact that persons who wish to lose weight must embrace this equation, “calories consumed must be less than calories burned, or vice versa.”
The only conceivable benefit I see in this product, or any other, that alleges weight loss benefits, is to increase the awareness of what one is eating as well as what one is weighing. Any placebo affect is an extra benefit. It’s tempting and alluring to embrace a program in which we don’t have to input any energy, mental or physical, into any changes in order to lose weight. But the believer of such an approach is simply living a delusion, in which case delusions fall under the medical category of psychiatry. Makes one wonder: Who needs the psychiatrist most -- the promoter who promotes such a program, or the user who is deluded into thinking that if you only sit around eating fatty foods, shaking crystals on your food will result in losing weight.
Become master of the ‘calories in/calories burned’ equation and you will become master of whatever it is you wish to weigh.