My Investigation On “Sensa” For Weight Loss

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Today’s Target: Sensa for Weight Loss

Sensa is basically a powder meant to be sprinkled on your food prior to eating. Developed by Dr. Alan Hirsch, his “Tastant” crystals are meant to enhance the flavor of your food and work with your satiety sensors in your brain to make you feel full on less. Dr. Hirsch is a neurologist and psychologist who is the Neurological Director of the Smell and Taste Research and Treatment Foundation in Chicago. Hmmm… sounds impressive. You know, I often find the more words in a person’s job title, the higher your waders should be for the impending B.S. of the actual work done… but, maybe I’m being judgmental… Let’s sniff it out…

Is the product or company an obvious scam?

Sensa has “suspicious” written all over it. Dr. Hirsch was apparently intrigued by the fact that people who had lost their sense of smell and taste due to severe head injuries tended to gain weight rapidly. His theory is they never feel satisfied without these senses, so they continually eat to attempt to find satisfaction.

He decided to create “Tastant crystals” to make bland (yet healthy) foods like tofu or vegetables more appealing. The idea being people would be more satisfied eating healthy foods. However, in the study (which I’ll cover in a second) where he tested his product, the subjects were told to eat whatever they wanted. This makes the product sound like a magic bullet but there simply are no magic bullets in weight loss.

As well, the list of ingredients is as follows: “Sensa contains Maltodextrin (Derived from Corn from the USA), Tricalcium Phosphate, Silica, Natural and Artificial Flavors. Sensa also contains Soy and Milk ingredients.”

So, I guess the natural and artificial flavors are the proprietary “Tastans.” I’m confused. The $89.95 price tag is quite a bit for those ingredients.

More obvious is the “free trial” offer. Now, remember, not all free trials are bogus, but after all the auto-ship scams, you have to wonder. And in the case of Sensa, your free trial will cost you an arm and a leg. Keep reading for the nitty gritty…

Is the company guilty of deceptive marketing?

Yes! This is a very deceptive free trial offer. You are signing up for an auto-ship program. Basically, you pay a small up-front shipping fee for this “free-trial offer”. If you don’t return the product within 30 days, you’re billed $89.95 and they continue to auto-ship Sensa to you and bill you $89.95 every two months thereafter until you cancel.

As well, Dr. Hirsch’s study has been called into question. He tested 1436 men and women over 6 months. The test group used Sensa and achieved a 30.5 pound average weight loss whereas the control group only lost an average of 2 pounds.

Sounds great, but guess what? ABC News investigated this clinical study that Dr. Hirsch claimed was “peer-reviewed.” Now, this is an important thing “peer-reviewed.” This process ensures that data wasn’t faulty and proper controls were considered. I mean, who are these people that he tested? How overweight were they? What did they eat normally? So many questions.

The Endocrine Society had this to say: “it would be incorrect to characterize Dr. Hirsch’s study as having been rigorously peer reviewed by the Endocrine Society” and “they were surprised and troubled by the promotional nature of his presentation.”

I think Dr. Pamela Peeke (who was on the ABC news segment on this subject) said it best: “There’s no magic bullet, and there’s no magic sprinkle.”

Does the health product live up to it’s claims?

The “Sprinkle Diet” as Sensa has been tagged does not work to counteract many of the reasons we eat too much of the wrong foods. You cannot sprinkle Sensa on fries and hope to lose weight. All the Sensa on lettuce in the world won’t counteract an emotional craving for food.

In the F.A.Q. section on the Sensa site, there’s actually a question that asks “I have gained weight, what’s going on?” and the answer?

The Answer According to Sensa:

“Sensa is non-caloric and alone would not produce weight gain. The most likely reason that someone would gain weight when they begin Sensa is that they are not yet in tune with their body’s hunger signals. Eat slowly, and pay attention, as soon as you START to feel full you should stop eating. Also if you are already on another weight loss program or diet at the time that you start Sensa, you should continue on that program and use Sensa in addition to it. Sensa should not be used as a substitute for an existing diet plan you are on.”

Wait, according to their claims, Sensa is supposed to help you feel full based on your satiety center associated with your sense of smell. The company flips it around in their answer and says it’s YOU who needs to be aware of this feeling of fullness. Sounds like a load of crap to me…

In fact, if smell is supposed to be a big factor in whether we feel satisfied or not, why do I start drooling at the smell of steak? Well, obviously, it’s because we do have that built-in instinct to smell something delicious and want to eat it. But when we do eat it, does the smell make us feel full? Or, do we simply continue to eat it, long past being full because it smells great and tastes great?

And what about this F.A.Q.:

“I’m eating more often, what’s up?”

Answer: Everyone reacts to the Tastants differently. Even though you are eating more often you are probably still consuming less calories overall. In fact having smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day is a highly effective way to boost your metabolism.

How do they know this person is eating less calories? Maybe they are eating a donut every half hour (sprinkled with Sensa of course). It’s dangerous to assume these things. And while eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day IS a way to boost your metabolism, it only helps you lose weight IF you are making healthy choices.

Does the product have any dangerous side effects?

Only the feeling of frustration and embarrassment when you waste your money on a product that is basically soy powders and artificial flavor. In a sense, you could open up one of those packets in a ramen package and sprinkle it on your food for the same effect. But DON’T do that… As well, Sensa has no calories or “taste” just an odor.

In a way, I think this product does have harmful ingredients because it’s all about false hope. Hundreds have tried it, hundreds more will try it and none of them will find lasting weight loss based on learning how to eat healthfully, exercising and coping with negative emotions in a more positive way. And to me, that’s sad.

What does the Better Business Bureau say about the company?

Sensa Products, LLC is an accredited BBB business. There have been complaints by 98 people who say they did not receive a full refund, 5 who said they received a partial refund, 16 who say Sensa did not perform according to contract, and 1 who says they refused to make an adjustment.

The BBB keeps Sensa in good standing because “Our complaint history for this company shows the company gave proper consideration to complaints presented by the Bureau.”

What are people saying about the product or company on blogs and forums?

From RipOffReport.com:

Submitted: Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Posted: Tuesday, February 09, 2010

“I did not purchase anything from this company, Sensa. I agreed to a $4.95 SHIPPING CHARGE for a FREE TRIAL of their product

When I saw what the product was I was glad that I was only out 4 dollars and 95 cents! It was a small 0.7 oz container of soy and milk powder! I felt stupid that I had even tried this thing.

A month later when I checked my Chase credit card I was SHOCKED and dismayed to find a charge of $89.95 from Sensa! This charge was made without my authorization!

I called Sensa immediately and demanded they return my money — that I did not sign anything nor authorize anyone to charge my credit card $89.95! The Sensa representative was condescending and rude. I asked her to explain to me how something that is FREE could cost $89.95!

She just kept reading from a script something about an RMA number that had expired. She then said that ANOTHER package was on it’s way and that my credit card was being charged ANOTHER $89.95! I managed to get that charge refunded but not the first chg.”

From the L.A. Times Blog:

“I’ve been using Sensa for about 2 weeks now along with my partner. Our appetites are less but no weight loss yet. I am curious to know if anyone else is suffering from gas and loose bowels with Sensa. Both my partner and I have noticed this unpleasant side effect. It’s not bad enough for me to quit Sensa since I want to lose weight so badly but I’ve gotten to be afraid to eat for fear of what will happen.

Posted by: Gen J”

Does the company sell any other “questionable” products?

There do not appear to be any other products. I would suggest they add a REAL diet and exercise plan to go along with the magical “Tastants.” Just my opinion…

Health Hound Overall Assessment: “It’s Ridiculous”

You can’t expect to sprinkle some magical concoction and lose weight. The verdict here is obvious.

There are way too many shady aspects of this entire “Sensa” scheme to grade it as anything other than a sham.

Share your Sensa story with the Health Hound! Leave a statement below and I’ll be sure to follow up.

I’m always on the trail!

Henry The Health Hound

51 COMMENTS

  1. Thank You for the objective review on the Sensa Weight Loss System. I am glad I “googled ” reviews on this product before I actually entered my credit card Info.

    They should have some law to make it Illegal to falsely advertise a ” Free Trial Period,” and then proceed to bill for the entire membership cost. I have read then they bill for the second month … After you try to cancel.

    The Better Business Bureau should not be endorsing a product with certain “Complaints” lodged against them. Its a bad reflection on the BBB.

    Your review was very helpful, now i’m going to “Google” the ingredients in Sensa.

    • I appreciate all of your comments. I started to try this product, but reading your comments and experiences, I am completely convinced that this is not or me. There is nothing magical about losing weight. I am always leery whenever a product claims that I don’t have to change my diet or exericse.

  2. I’ve been on Sensa for a month, and despite previous complainers. My husband and I knew about the $89.95 charge is right in the original packaging. I think if you didn’t know about it would make me bitter as well. Being a physician and noting very well the flaws of his study design and results, the concept makes clinical sense, so I decided to try it. I maintain a moderately healthy lifestyle, (healthy foods mild exercise) but wasn’t losing weight. The addition of Sensa to my meals over the month may have some psychosomatic affects, but I do get full quicker and have lost 9 lbs. If it has the placebo affect on me than I’ll take it, but if it’s not a placebo affect than something in the tastants really works.

  3. Hey Dante, you’re very welcome and thanks for commenting!

    You bring up a good point that I’d like to address :: Over the last few months the FTC has in fact been cracking down on these “Free Trial Offers” due to their deceptive nature.

    It’s also rumored that Visa & Mastercard have joined the fight in cracking down on merchants who offer these free trials.

    While there are still a lot of really good “Free Trial Offers” out there that make their terms very clear, I would say that the majority of them (including Sensa) try to hide the details in the fine print.

    It’s also rumored that free trial offers account for around 2% of Visa & Mastercard revenue and 40% of their chargebacks.

  4. Thank you researching and exposing the facts on SENSA. I have never used any weight loss regimen and since summer is here already in Florida I wanted to loose 5 -10 pounds, and was seriously considering using SENSA.
    I had tons of questions and thought it was too good to be true. I’m so happy I didnt fall for it. I will stick to exercise and a healthy diet because that have maintained my weight for…well as long as I can remember.
    Thanks again, I especially liked the fact that you identified the ingredients in SENSA, I totally agree its “NO MAGIC PORTION” and apparently quite expensive as well.
    With Regards.
    Rebecca

  5. I too experienced bloating, loose bowels, and fatigue when I started Sensa. I used it for two days and started feeling weak and ill. That next day I had loose bowels and nausea. I stopped and the symtoms went away. I’m sending it back.

    • Hey Carolyn, Thanks for your comment!

      I’m going to do a little more research on the side effects of Sensa and see what I can come up with. Hopefully the bad reactions you experienced are not too common.

      I’ll be sure to update the investigation if I find anything out!

  6. Thank you for providing this valuable research and from so many different angles. I am certain you have saved many people money and misery!

  7. Hello, do you mind if I quote a bit of your article on my blog? I’ll post a link back! Let me know its a problem, niceone

  8. A really informative article. To me working towards weight loss should be a way of life rather than being a burden. I recently started a site regarding weight loss, I wish to quote a few lines from this article (I will give this source link, and credit to this site). Again..

    Thanks in Advance

    Ajithkumar

  9. my sister recently order sensa, i was considering ordering until i read comments, so glad i did. how do i tell her its a scam.

  10. Thank you for your article.

    I do not believe in diets, but in a health eating lifestyle with portion control. I do not know if Sensa may/may not work, but my ALWAYS questions with diets or products are:

    – what happens AFTER you get the weight off and stop the diet/product?
    – how to keep the weight off if the initial reason (cause) is still there and has not been addressed? (physical dysfunction – like hormones, emotional eating, depression).

    Will people need to use this product forever if they do not learn and attack the cause of the overweight?

    And it is so silly to say you do not need to exercise.
    Exercise is good for well-being and to make muscles stronger and avoid saggy skin.

    I will never understand how people sleep at night but fooling people and not actually helping them understands themselves.

  11. I have never tried this and am very skeptical. Thanks for your review. If anyone wants to try it without getting locked into that $89.95 autoship you can purchase it on ShopNBC.com – they have a 30 day money back guarantee and it is on special today -5/9/10 for only $72.70 for a 2-month supply with free S&H. They do have an auto delivery plan but you can cancel it at any time.
    I am still not sure if I want to try it but this sounds like a much better deal for those who want it.

  12. I used Sensa and was charged $89.95 for a free trial and called them for a refund and only recieved half of my money back it is really a SCAM!!!!!!!!

  13. Thank you so much for all your research. I just watched the Sensa infomercial on tv and thought “yeah right” so I looked it up online and sure enough alot of people think “yeah right”.

    The main ingredient in Sensa is “Maltodextrin” thats spelled S-U-G-A-R, for anyone who doesnt know,and Im sure you could achieve the same results with a spoonful of honey before each meal
    Thanks again for saving me 90 dollars

  14. Seems to me, the easiest way to gain some credibility with a weight loss product would be not to price it so high and not package a trial period into a lifetime commitment. If it truly works, you’ll make plenty of money off all the people using it.

  15. I already feel foolish. I have an order coming ($99.95) for 2 months. I don’t even want to start it now. Do you think I will be able to get a refund & cancel any future shipments?

    • Hey Lynn,

      Yes you will hopefully get a refund if you request it just make sure you do it before they ship out more product to you because that’s when they’re going to charge you. It’s always good to keep a close eye on your credit card statements to make sure companies like these don’t keep charging you.

  16. Thank you so much for your research on these fraudulent products. A friend told me about it, so I decided to see if there were any complaints online about it before I considered purchasing it.

    I got caught up in a similar scam where you pay an initial small amount of money and the company continues to bill you without your consent. As soon as I saw the additional monies on my credit card bill, I called my credit card company and put the amount in dispute. The following month the company that was scamming me, charged me another payment.

    So again I called my credit card company and spoke with a manager. I told the manager what was going on, that it was a scam, and that I had tried repeatedly to call the company but no one would answer their phones.

    The credit card manager removed all charges from my credit card and then closed out my card so that no further charges could be made to it. With her help, I then opened another credit card and have had no further incidents.

    However, it was quite a nightmare for a while. So best not to get caught up in these Internet scams.

    Health Hound thank you again for your wonderful service.

  17. Just a quick note to let you all know how I’ve solved scam companies from re-billing my credit card month after month, as Sensa seems to do.

    My bank (Bank of America) has a feature called “ShopSafe,” It’s a virtual online credit card that can be used both online and offline; I can use it making orders via telephone also. Your bank may have a similar free service to its customers.

    To access ShopSafe I have to login to the BOA site and easily create a virtual credit card for the specific amount of money for a purchase, say for example.. $19.95. Now, the virtual credit card is good for only that amount of money, after that $19.95 bill is charged the credit card evaporates and is no more. And I’ve had scam companies try to re-bill the card over and over but they can’t.. it doesn’t exist anymore.. it’s gone! I know this because I’ve received emails from the scam companies saying that they’ve tried to re-bill my credit card but can’t.. I laugh every time!

    The virtual credit card made for me is via my bank but is an authentic MasterCard temporary credit card. I wouldn’t buy anything on the Internet or on the telephone without it!

    Hope this helps some of you.

    • Citicards also offers a ‘virtual credit card number but it is good for one month at the retailer where it is used. I use this anytime I buy online.

      I would suggest that to prevent your card from being charged again, just tell your bank that you lost your card and it will be replaced with a different number. I had to do this before as well.

  18. Dear Henry,
    Thank you for your honesty and clarity about this product. I work with myself and others to find healthy ways to keep life in balance mentally, physically and emotionally. Your research and reviews make it safer for consumers like myself to make healthy, sane choices which lead to successful living. Again thank you for helping keep many lives in Balance.
    P.S. This was my first visit to your site. How Fortunate.

  19. This is the first time I have visited your sight and I’m so glad I did. I wish I had had it several products before. Also I loved the tip about “ShopSafe” credit card, posted from Tracy P. I’m going to check it out with my bank. I appreciate your concern for people in general. I feel fortunate to have found your site. Thank you.

  20. I would like to know if sensa can be used by pregnant woman, or woman who intend to get pregnant.
    Does it interfere some how on the fertility, drugs to the efect or any drugs at all?

  21. I read somewhere (gotta research the article again) that sensa is nothing more than sugar and fiber? If this is true, then that will explain some people complaining of the gas and bloating.

  22. I TRIED SENSA FOR 2 1.2 MONTHS. I USED IT ON EVERYTHING AND I DID NOT LOSE ANY WEIGHT. I FELT THAT I MAY HAVE GAINED SOME. I AM TIRED OF TRYING WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS THAT DO NOT WORK. WILL WE EVER OVERCOME THIS BURDEN OF LOSING AND GAINING WEIGHT?

    THIS IS A SCAM, DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY.

  23. Don’t count on magic bullets, etc., to make a dent in your appetite and help you lose weight. It will not work. Period. My advice is if you’re serious about losing is to see a doctor and rule out anything (thyroid, metabolic X, etc.) that might be keeping you from dropping pounds. THEN eat less. Every anorexic knows that! It’s not brain surgery people.

    Find out what a portion size is and stick to that. Eat more fruits and veggies, drink more water, and exercise. Exercise can be as simple as a 20 – 30 minute walk everyday. Not three times a week, everyday. That’s how I dropped sixty pounds. No starving, no exercising until I dropped.

    If you like green tea or coffee a big steaming mug of those helps clamp down on your appetite. And green tea helps burn fat. Being fat sucks! You have to want it in your bones to lose. Trust me, walk every single day for 20-30 minutes and stick to smaller portions. That way, you can eat what you want and still lose.

  24. I also tried Sensa for two months and I ended up gaining four pounds. I am very disappointed and I will be returning the product. Please, do not waste your money!

  25. I have 5 months worth of unused Sensa sitting around, I have no idea if it works because I always forget to use the stuff! It doesn’t “stick” to most food. This product has not done anything for me and yet I still see the banner ads on almost every webpage. Save your money or try a free calorie monitoring site like sparkpeople.com or Livestrong.com!

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