Snacks that fool our brains

Fat-fighting ready-meals and snacks containing appetite suppressants could appear in UK supermarkets within two years, reports Scientists at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich are working on a new approach that will incorporate hunger-curbing plant chemicals called lipids into a wide range of convenience foods such as cakes and cookies. Lead researcher Dr. Peter Wilde is working on a method of isolating lipids that are easily digested by the body and concentrating them into a product that can be inserted into food. The scientists are trying to find a way to fool our brains into thinking we have consumed enough fat. We have a big appetite for fats because when our brains evolved thousands of years ago, fat was scarce. Lipids fool our brains by interfering with lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fat in the digestive system. By slowing this breakdown, the gut believes it has consumed a larger amount of fat than it actually has, causing a hormonal response that corresponds to feeling full. A slower breakdown of fat also causes a gradual release of energy into the body. Fabuless, a Dutch dairy supplement made from a combination of palm and oat oils, is a product that works on the same principle. "We are trying to reduce appetite by using the body's own natural response rather than using an appetite suppressant drug,” explains Dr. Wilde.