Chocoholic Fix

Can a skin patch curb your appetite for sweets?

By Carin Gorrell, published on November 1, 2000 - last reviewed on December 12, 2006

Can't curb those chocolate cravings? Now there's a new skin patch
that may help you kick the habit—and shed a few extra pounds.

Called Crave Control patches, they were invented by Liz Paul, a
former restaurateur who noticed that her slim chefs rarely ate their own
dishes. Paul knew that taste and smell are closely linked senses, and
wondered whether the vanilla smell wafting from some recipes stifled
their appetites. So she developed a vanilla-scented patch and, placing it
on her hand, sniffed it every time she had the urge to snack. Within
weeks she lost nearly five pounds.

Paul's patch was tested at London's St. George's Hospital, where
chief dietitian Catherine Collins asked 200 volunteers to sniff a patch
that smelled like vanilla, lemon or nothing at all each time they had a
snack attack. Four weeks later, subjects with the scentless patch had
lost an average of only 2.4 pounds, while those sniffing vanilla lost an
average of four pounds. Collins believes the vanilla scented patch works
by influencing brain chemistry, just as certain chemicals in chocolate
trigger the mood-lifting chemical serotonin.

Thrilled with the results, which were presented at the 13th
International Congress of Dietetics in Scotland, Paul is undeterred by
the patch's one potential downside: Some participants experienced nausea.
"The nausea is a small price to pay if the patch helps me diet," she told
one reporter.