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Monday, 24 July, 2000, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Vanilla patch 'cures sweet tooth'
Chocolate
Patch could combat chocolate craving
Scientists have come up with a way to beat chocolate addiction - a vanilla-scented patch.

The patch, which is stuck on the back of the hand may help curb the craving for chocolate and other sweet food and thus help the wearer to lose weight, according to a study.

Researchers from St George's Hospital, London, found that the patch was as effective as some of the new slimming drugs, but without the side effects.

Chief dietitian Catherine Collins said: "The aroma patch significantly reduced sweet food intake and there was greater weight loss amongst those using the vanilla patch, compared to a lemon-scented dummy or no patch.

"The most interesting thing we found was that the chocolate score was halved for people wearing the vanilla patch."

Vanilla pods
The patch is impregnated with vanilla scent

Those wearing the vanilla patches shed an average of 4lb compared to just 1.5lb for those not wearing any patch.

However, the patches did not affect people's appetite for boiled sweets, savoury snacks or alcohol.

The experts do not know how the vanilla patches work but they believe the smell affects the brain's chemistry.

Dr Collins said it could alter levels of the chemical messenger serotonin in the brain.

Chocolate contains chemicals which are converted into serotonin -a substance believed to affect the appetite.

Dr Collins suggested that the patches would be most effective in helping people who are slightly overweight, and have difficulty in controlling their intake of sweet foods

The findings will be presented on Wednesday at the International Congress of Dietetics in Edinburgh.

The vanilla patches are due to be launched as slimming aids later this year.

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See also:

10 Jul 00 | Health
Warning over UK obesity levels
30 Jun 00 | Health
Hope for fat control drug
29 Jun 00 | Health
Brain 'delay' leads to obesity
20 Mar 00 | Health
'Diet dust' hope for obese
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