Could herbal pill cure your cravings for fatty foods by making them unappealingPlant extract stopped people eating three minutes earlier than counterparts Participants reported no side effects
Louis De Bernires and Louise Eccles
00:37 GMT, 1 March 2013
17:44 GMT, 2 March 2013
A new herbal supplement claims to dramatically reduce people's appetite and make fatty foods seem less appealing.
Scientists at the University of Liverpool found that participants taking weight loss aid Zotrim ate a sixth less than those taking a placebo.
They were also more likely to shun high-fat foods, such as salami, crisps, chocolate mousse and cookies, in favour of healthier options, including bread, turkey, cucumber and a fruit cocktail.
People on the supplement chose healthier options including bread, turkey, cucumber and a fruit cocktail
The study showed that those taking the South American plant extract stopped eating three minutes earlier than their counterparts and consumed 112 fewer calories.
This rose to 200 less calories when Zotrim was combined in a drink with a dietary fibre called inlulin.
Researchers found that both the supplement and the drink made people feel fuller for longer and reduced their 'desire to eat'.
Significantly, participants reported no side effects, bringing hope to an army of dieters.
Other appetite suppressant pills have been associated with everything from headaches, sleep problems, bloating and gas and diarrhoea.
Professor Jason Halford, who was involved in the study at the university's Kissileff Laboratory for Ingestive Behaviour, acknowledged the 'scepticism' surrounding diet aids, but said: 'This study demonstrated the robust acute effect of Zotrim on reducing food intake.
'The effect of Zotrim was enhanced by the dietary fibre inulin, the combination resulting in a significant decrease in hunger and desire to eat.'
The findings, due to be published in international research journal Appetite, asked 58 healthy to slightly overweight young women to take a supplement before every meal.
Their calorie-intake was then monitored when they ate a set breakfast, followed by a buffet lunch.
Neither the patients nor the researchers knew who was taking a placebo and who was receiving Zotrim.
Last night, Professor Halford admitted it was still unclear exactly how Zotrim suppressed appetite, saying: 'The supplement is making your body think that what you are eating is more filling.
'It makes you feel fuller, quicker and affects both energy intake and appetite.
'But as for how it is doing that and the specific underlying mechanism, we are just not sure yet.'
The effect of the dietary fibre inulin on the body is better documented.
He said the inulin was broken down by bacteria in the bowel, which caused the organ to release hormones in the gut that made the body feel fuller.
Zotrim tablets, which is available on the high street, can be taken up to three times a day and costs 21.95 for a month's supply of tablets, while the combined Fibretrim drink costs 19.95 for 20 sachets.