A nasal device which impairs ability to smell could help obese people lose weight, researchers have claimed.
The soft silicone contraption is inserted inside the nostrils, enabling users to continue breathing but causing air to bypass the olfactory.
The device, named NozNoz, was found to aid weight loss in obese people under the age of 50, according to a pilot study presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, Austria.
Inventor Adva Beck likened the product to wearing contact lenses, with users able to wear them for 12 hours a day and each pair suitable for two week’s worth of use.
The pilot study examined 65 obese adults who reduced their diet by 500 calories every day, with 37 told to use the device and 28 given saline drops as a placebo.
Overall there was no significant difference in weight loss between the two groups, however there was when looking at under 50s alone.
In this group, those who used the device every day for five to 12 hours lost an average of 8.3kg in 12 weeks, compared with 4.3kg in the placebo group.
Meanwhile, under 50s who used it for more than eight hours a day lost on average 10.1kg during the trial.
This may be because ability to smell declines with age, typically from the age of 50, the researchers said.
Dietary preferences for sugar, artificial sweeteners and sweet beverages also appeared reduce in this group, they found.
Previous studies have shown food odours and sense of smell can influence our appetite and dietary choices, according to the researchers.
The team, from the Rabin Medical Centre in Israel, said: “This novel smell-reducing self-administered nasal device caused weight loss in subjects aged under 50 and reduced dietary preference for sweet food for all participants.
“Further studies should be conducted to explore this new option and to determine the role of this device for treatment of obesity and diabetes.”
The “wellness” device will go on sale in the coming months, initially costing 89 dollars (£67) for two sets, lasting four weeks.
Ms Beck said she realised that it would not be for everyone.
“Like contact lenses some people like it and some people use glasses,” she told a press conference.
“It does not fit everyone, not everyone can adjust to it.”
She added: “Different people need different aids for weight loss and there’s no single solution today that works for everybody. There’s no silver bullet.”