America's obsession with its waistline has made the food industry pay closer attention to a new breed of diet- and weight-friendly foods.
Lowering calories is one of the classic and most effective strategies for managing weight. Low-calorie foods continue to dominate the field as one of the easiest ways for consumers to manage their weight and girth issues. But ingredient vendors - nutraceutical and commodity - are developing and marketing more and more ingredients that tackle the overweight/obesity issue through a variety of mechanisms.
Calorie control is not the only way to healthy weight-management - fiber and satiety are also key.
Theories abound on what matters most in this universal battle against the bulge. Naturally, consumers continue to be confused about what's right for them and their weight matters. Food and beverage manufacturers are turning to the bioscience of ingredients for creating effective weight control foods and beverages that are truly to the consumer's advantage.
There are several avenues for the food industry to take to positively affect weight gain and obesity. These include products created for obesity-related diseases (such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes), weight-friendly foods offering control and effective prevention of weight gain, and diet foods.
Approaches include products that boost/regulate metabolism, suppress appetite, promote satiation - the feeling of fullness, change and improve body composition, and change calorie intake.
Starting at age 30 we experience an average 2 percent decrease in metabolism every decade. This is largely because of a decrease in produce enzymes that convert fat into energy. Also after 30, the body doesn't burn calories as efficiently as before.
Ongoing research on the mechanisms underlying the cause of weight gain implies thermogenic compounds as potentially safe and effective adjuncts to weight-management tools. These ingredients allow formulators to specifically enhance the activity of fat-burning enzymes and thereby, slow or reverse metabolism rate decline and decrease or even halt weight gain.
DSM Nutritional Products Inc., Parsippany, N.J. DSM created caffeine-free Teavigo - a highly purified epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) green tea isolate. Human clinical studies indicate Teavigo brand EGCG can be powerful against various obesity factors, including a reduction in body fat and weight, a reduction in body weight gain and increased metabolism and fat oxidation. It recently received GRAS status and is ideal for formulating products for people seeking healthier alternatives to caffeine or taurine for stimulating alertness and fat burning.
Crank it Up
Orafti Active Food Ingredients, Malvern, Pa., makes Beneo - a soluble inulin fiber to help limit hunger and energy intake. Inulin ferments in the colon and helps modulate the release of hormones that influence appetite. Beneo is used to add sweetness and fiber to spring water drinks by Works With Water Nutraceuticals, Lancashire, England. Founder Jules Birch created Delicate Balance for the female market and Eau Man for males with Beneo to attract a wider slice of the population interested in overall health, not just weight management.
Yet another ingredient possibly effective in reducing voluntary energy intake is hydroxycitric acid (HCA), an all-natural extract of Garcinia cambogia, a tropical fruit from Asia. Benicia, Calif.-based Interhealth makes Super CitriMax - a unique, patent-pending form of HCA bound to the minerals calcium and potassium.
Solubility and higher bioavailability than regular calcium-based HCA ingredients makes Super CitriMax ideal for Englewood Cliffs, N.J.,-based Fuze Beverage LLC's weight-management products. CitriMax, as well as l-carnitine are used in Healthy Infuzions Slenderize Drink and Fuze Slender Energy Drinks to help suppress hunger and boost the metabolism, respectively.
Toxicology expert Madhusudan Soni believes Super CitriMax is popular for its appetite reducing ability and inhibition of fat synthesis without affecting the central nervous system, causing insomnia, increasing blood pressure or heart rate the way diet most other stimulants do. Creative Enterprises International Inc., N.Y., uses Super CitriMax as the main component in Jana Skinny Water. "Super CitriMax" has also been affirmed GRAS for use in functional beverages by the Burdock Group, Vero Beach, Fla.
In Europe, Bio Serae, Bram, France has launched Neopuntia, from the succulent plant Opuntia ficus-indica. Neopuntia is recognized as a food ingredient in Europe, where it has been consumed for many years.
Kellogg's extended its Special K line of weight management products to target convenience and portion control.
Gluttony is the elephant in the room when it comes to theobesity crisis. The irony of a sedentary lifestyle leading to increased caloric intake led to growing interest in making foods and beverages that help suppress consumer appetite. Ingredients that fill the role of filling us up are at the forefront of wellness product development.
Satiety is emerging as a more effective way to lose or manage weight. According to Lynda Doyle director of business development at DSM, "The concept of satiety will likely shift to a major weight management attribute in the future. Helping consumers feel satiated early during eating is the key to garnering satisfaction and helping them with their weight struggles."