Diet in a bottle?

Exercise and healthy eating: the two tried-and-tested steps towards weight balance.

Still, it seems we can't help but hold out hope for a miracle cure when it comes to losing weight. Enter what may be one of the more improbable diet solutions we have encountered: weight loss fragrance.

And we are not alone in doubting its veracity.

Prends-Moi Eau De Minceur - which translates as Take Me Slimming Scent - has thousands of women clamouring for a bottle of the perfume that promises to reduce appetite and stimulate fat-digesting enzymes.

The Daily Mail reports that over 6000 women in the UK have subscribed to a waiting list for the neurocosmetic, made by Veld's, which retails online for around $50 for 100ml. It is the first perfume of its kind - and news of the miraculous product has spread around the world like wildfire.

The scent's makers say that the inclusion of Betaphroline stimulates the release of B-endorphins in the skin - which in turn triggers "an immediate sensation of wellbeing, a reduction in stress and an increase in contentment reducing the need to overeat." This chain of events leads to weight loss, the company claims, while a mix of spirulina, caffeine and carnitine on the ingredient list is said to help in the breakdown of fat in the body.

In road tests of the multi-functional fragrance, the Centre of Biological Research and Cutaneous Experimentation - a private French laboratory offering testing for beauty products to provide custom claims - found that 70 per cent of women in a trial said that the perfume did indeed have an effect on appetite, influencing eating habits and 75 per cent found their wellbeing boosted by the spritz.

The product's contentment enhancing claims are backed up by the 82 per cent of particpants who reported a sensation of comfort. The trial monitored 28 days of regular use.

But the claims have drawn raised eyebrows from some, not least the University of Sydney's Dr Kim Bell-Anderson, who told Life & Style that she found "absolutely no peer reviewed publications to support this product."

Whilst studies may have been conducted and not published, the lecturer at the School of Molecular Bioscience says that "another point is that they are claiming it as a 'slimming' product or weight loss - but body weight wasn't actually measured."

Instead, the perfume's makers have been clever with their wording: "They carefully say that people feel as though their appetite is reduced," rather than making more solid claims, she points out.

But more worrying is that Bell-Anderson could not find a shred of research even suggesting that a product could permeate the skin to increase endorphin release.

She is not alone in her reservations over Prends-Moi. Ingrid Just from consumer watchdog Choice is no stranger to exotic "weight loss" products - and warns customers to approach with caution.

In December 2011, Sensaslim – a 'diet mouth spray' – was stripped from the register of therapeutic goods for false and misleading claims. Selling for up to $1200 a litre, the bogus product is now illegal to sell, supply, advertise, export or import in Australia.

Just said: "We're often attracted to quick fixes that are full of great promises for little effort - we're looking for a solution. But it's important to look at the scientific claims and what scintific research is saying.

"There is often very little proof to support these claims."

She says that it is easy for consumers to read testimonials and look at before and after pictures, but that one testimonial is not equal to a peer reviewed study. More crucially, Just warns consumers to consider a product's potential impact on pre-existing conditions and how it may interact with medications. "See your doctor or consult your pharmacist before you consider spending money on these things."

But is it up to scratch fragrance wise? Apparently so - 75 per cent of the women, aged between 18 and 70, found the scent's top notes of grapefruit, mandarin and bergamot and base notes of sandalwood, musk, patchouli and vanilla to be pleasant. Though not when paired with a hamburger and fries, we assume.

That's all well and good, but if you are looking for a quick fix to lose weight, a bottle of patchouli is not likely to be your best bet. As Just put it: "We spend a lot of money on these quick fixes and sadly our waistlines are not getting any slimmer."

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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