Reducing the Desire for High-Sugar Foods

When it comes to your favorite sweet treat, you can’t eat just one.  Research indicates that an initial taste of a high-sugar food increases the desire for more, and that consumption of high-sugar foods results in weight gain. Obesity and being overweight is a serious public health problem. Nearly 70% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, causing 300,000 deaths annually. Finding a way to reduce desire for sweet treats could be an important step towards promoting positive changes in health.

In a recent study, investigators at the Oregon Research Institute (ORI) in Eugene, OR, found that consuming a sweet-taste-suppressing lozenge containing gymnemic acid “GA” (Gymnema sylvestre leaf extract) produced a 31% reduction in desire for candy and a 44% reduction in total candy intake. The results published today in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

In this double-blind experiment, sixty-seven adults selected a favorite candy, consumed one standardized serving, rated candy pleasantness along with desire for more candy, and were randomly assigned to consume a GA or placebo lozenge. They subsequently completed candy desire ratings and were offered additional candy servings, one at a time. If an offering was accepted, it was consumed, pleasantness and desire ratings were reported, and another serving was offered.

“Given that overconsumption of high-sugar foods causes weight gain, which increases risk for morbidity and mortality, it is vital to identify a way to help people make healthier food choices,” noted Eric Stice, Ph.D., principal investigator on the study. “These findings suggest that the gymnemic lozenge immediately reduces high-sugar food intake.”

GA are triterpenoid saponin glycosides isolated from the leaves of Gymnema Sylvestre, a woody vine that has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. Chewing the leaves of this plant suppresses the taste of sweetness from sugars and sugar substitutes by inhibiting sweet taste receptors on the tongue.

Results from this randomized between-subjects placebo-controlled experiment confirmed that participants who consumed the GA lozenge were significantly less likely to choose to eat their preferred candy relative to those who consumed the placebo. The GA lozenge produced a 44% reduction in total candy intake compared to the placebo, this effect was both statistically significant and clinically meaningful. To our knowledge, this is the first experiment to provide behavioral evidence that a GA lozenge immediately reduces consumption of an HSF.

The gymnema lozenges used in this study were provided by Crave Crush LLC and are marketed under the names Crave Crush and Sweet Defeat.

Visit Oregon Research Institute at http://ori.org and visit Crave Crush at https://www.cravecrush.com.

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