Satiety and Satiation Trump Calories in Weight Control

Satiety is the buzzword of weight management as caloric restriction continues to prove ineffective in overcoming obesity.

By Mark Anthony, Ph.D., Technical Editor

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In seeking solutions to counter the obesity crisis, many experts from the scientific community and the food industry have shifted their attention to satiety. "Appetite is an important determinant of food intake and is composed of two related but distinct elements: satiation and satiety," says Cathy Arnold, senior formulation scientist for Fortitech Inc., Schenectady, N.Y.

Satiation is a meal event and represents the cumulative effect signals that indicate the meal is coming to an end. These signals may be sensory, cognitive, digestive or hormonal. Satiety expresses the lack of desire to eat after the meal is completed. Hunger, satiation and satiety are part of the delicate balance upon which we depend for energy and healthy weight.

A major weight-control concern today is the impact of sweetened beverages and how they affect satiation and satiety. Research has revealed that sensory factors that appear to have the greatest effect on satiation and satiety in beverages and energy-rich liquids are thickness and creaminess. This has application to the food industry because it impacts the formulation of products designed to be either meal supplements or meal replacements, which often rely on the addition of soluble fibers.

For both liquid and solid products, volume is important. However, the real key to satiety involves satisfaction of nutrient and energy demands over the long-term, and with the fewest possible calories.

"According to Euromonitor International, there will be an ongoing prevalence of reduced-calorie foods within this category, which is considered a 'passive approach' to weight loss," says Arnold. "The key to manufacturers' ability to meet the promise of their nutritional labels and health claims is the stability of the nutrients in their food or beverage matrix.

The key to manufacturers' ability to meet the promise of their nutritional labels and health claims is the stability of the nutrients in their food or beverage matrix.

– Cathy Arnold, Senior Formulation Scientist, Fortitech

"There are, however, many variables internal and external to the product's environment that affect nutrient integrity, potentially limiting their potency, efficacy and shelflife," she continues. "The effects of these variables are compounded as the number of functional ingredients increases." Fortitech provides a variety of ingredients and suggested formulations that address satiety and satiation in modern foods, particularly in the categories of beverages and bars

In a recent review of literature on low-calorie sweeteners with regard to satiety and satiation, the suggestion was made that low-calorie sweeteners might stimulate excessive intake of calories leading to obesity. This has not been confirmed, however, and other research indicates that low-calorie sweeteners can help curtail excessive calorie intake. This confirmation recently led to the development of low-calorie, obesity countering products that target satiety, not mere calorie reduction.

Many of these satiety foods and beverages rely on botanical extracts with historical and anecdotal roots. Carmit Ltd. of Israel is focusing its satiety solution on glucomannan, a water-soluble polysaccharide fiber from the Asian tuber konjac that has garnered a sudden burst of interest of late. The company created gluten-free wafers coated with dark chocolate and filled with crème containing glucomannan and potato extract. Both ingredients are clinically proven to cause a feeling of satiety.

Another example is extract of saffron. A recent study published in the journal Nutrition Research spells out the theory: “Satiereal, a Crocus sativus L extract, reduces snacking and increases satiety in a randomized placebo-controlled study of mildly overweight, healthy women.” The study looked at the effect of a saffron stigma extract on snacking. Saffron, the dried stigmas of Crocus sativus L., is a popular and very expensive spice used as an herbal medicine, food coloring and flavoring agent. With origins in India, Iran and Europe, saffron is also cultivated in Italy, Spain and Greece.

After harvesting, the stigmas, the parts of the flower that receive pollen, are manually separated from the petals and the rest of the flower. The stigma extract acts as a natural serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects appetite, mood, learning, and memory. A nutraceutical, Satiereal, produced by PL Thomas & Co., Morristown, N.J., was shown in this study to aid weight loss by increasing satiety and reducing the tendency to snack between meals.

"Satiereal is a unique approach to weight management through satiety," explains Barbara Davis, director of medical and scientific affairs for PL Thomas. "Many satiety products, such as fibers for example, induce a feeling of fullness. But people snack and overeat for many reasons — stress, habit, boredom — so creating fullness may not be the answer. By helping to decrease stress and improve emotional well-being, Satiereal can get at the emotional causes of overeating and provide support for weight management."

Formulating products to meet changing calorie demands and consumer expectations of satiation and satiety is a complex process that will continue to be a focus of scientists and food manufacturers. However, by targeting the multiple factors involved in satisfaction of hunger, processors are well on their way to providing new avenues for weight management and health beyond dieting.

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Food Processing Magazine.

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