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New Breed of Weight-Loss Foods

Oct. 3, 2006
America's obsession with its waistline has made the food industry pay closer attention to a new breed of diet- and weight-friendly foods.

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.

Metabolic Regulators

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."

Fabuless (once called Olibra and Reducal) is a DSM ingredient that targets weight control from the satiety direction. The emulsion of oat and palm oils is designed so the large quantity of polar lipids in the oat oil extract coat palm oil droplets and prevent digestion until it reaches the small intestine. The undigested fat is interpreted as a signal that the body has had enough food, suppressing the hunger signals.

Another ingredient category propelled into the satiety spotlight is fiber. Kimmo Lucas, president and CEO, Cevena Bioproducts Inc, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, focused on fiber effect on body fat levels and weight loss. Increased satiety, reduced energy intake and loss of weight associated with high fiber diets are reasons enough for processors to seek Cevena's Viscofiber and its claims of "supports weight loss maintenance," "assists with weight loss by moderating glucose absorption," "lowers glycemic response," "provides a sensation of satiety when taken prior to meals," and "helps you feel full and more satisfied."

Inulin and oligofructose ingredients from Orafti, Malvern, Pa., can also enhance the fiber content of foods for satiety. Orafti food and nutrition specialist Hilary Hursh, R.D., cites recent research findings that increasing fiber is an effective part of a healthy weight loss/weight maintenance plan for practically every demographic. Consumer awareness of fiber has gained popularity as consumers realize how satiating fiber can be.

Recent research by Janine Higgins, Ph.D., instructor at the Department of Pediatrics, The Childrens' Hospital, Denver, highlights the benefits of fiberlike resistant starch. Studies show resistant starches such as Bridgewater, N.J.-based National Starch Food Innovation's (www.resistantstarch.com) popular Hi-maize triggers metabolic reactions in the distal gastrointestinal tract that play key roles in switching on the satiety feedback loop for hunger control.

Not many dietary fibers make it to this part of the g.i.tract; soluble fibers are fermented in the colon and insoluble fibers can't trigger the same process. Natural resistant starch, however, by arriving intact at this far end of the digestive system, play an important role in elevating the genetic expression of the two peptides, which in turn, help the consumer feel full longer.

Calories and Convenience

ConAgra Foods, Omaha, Neb., is approaching the 20-year mark in the health and wellness category. In 1988 the company launched Healthy Choice to meet the growing consumer demand for higher standards for taste, convenience and nutrition. Today, the line has more than 200 products and some 70 different menu choices in meals alone. ConAgra created a variety of other brands, such as Egg Beaters, Life Choice and Golden Cuisine, designed to meet individualized nutrition needs.

ConAgra strives to make its weight-management products personally relevant. According to Regina DeMars, company spokeswoman, "Weight management is important for leading a healthy life, but there is a difference between dieting to lose weight and eating the right foods to reach and maintain an optimal weight."

ConAgra relies on a combination of fiber and portion control to provide satiety. For example, in its Healthy Choice Soup varieties, the soups are a good source of fiber, contain 110 calories or fewer and are low in fat. The Lightlife line of soy-based vegetarian foods and meat analogs goes a healthy step further, containing no artificial colors, preservatives or monosodium glutamate and includes such popular items as Smart Pretzel Dog and Smart Tortilla Wraps.

Some processors have shown insight in recognizing weight-management isn't just calorie reduction. Nature's Path, Richmond, British Columbia, has enjoyed great success with its Optimum Slim cereal. The key is its high fiber content - 11 g. per serving. But that it has great flavor, avoiding much of the negative mouthfeel typical to other high-fiber products, is what makes it work for consumers.

Sweetness options

Note to Marketing

Important principles for marketing weight control/friendly foods and beverages accurately present characteristics including taste, size, and content, along with nutrition and health benefits. Do not mislead.

  • Support benefit claims with sound scientific evidence.
  • Neither encourage nor condone excess consumption.
  • Portray foods as a part of meals and in context of a balanced diet.
  • Food not intended to substitute for meals should not be represented as such.
  • Do not exaggerate potential benefits or imply associated.

Low calories sweeteners experienced a resurgence in popularity as researchers crack the code on better tasting, better for you sugar analogs.

The low-calorie food and beverage stables rely mostly on the four artificial sweeteners approved for use in foods by FDA: saccharin, acesulfame K, aspartame and sucralose. These ingredients owe their success to their ability to match the sweetness profile of sugar.

Saccharin and acesulfame K contain no calories and are not metabolized by the body. Sucralose is similar, but a fraction is metabolized. Aspartame, on the other hand, acts like a protein and is metabolized in the body.

Polyols, or sugar alcohols, work well as sugar replacers and are often used in different blends for baking purposes. Hydrogenated maltose produces a polyol called maltitol that is about 90 percent as sweet as sugar and is noncariogenic. And unlike sugar, it does not quickly raise glucose blood-sugar levels.

For food processors, polyols offer a wide range of possibilities since no sweetener alone can deliver the taste and functionality of sucrose. Polyols can effectively replace sugars in various applications and range in functionality from bulking agents to high-intensity sweeteners. Blending allows for selective functionalities and taste adjustments.

Cargill, Minneapolis, has a range of low-cal sweetener solutions, such as those utilizing erythritol, an all-natural, no-calorie bulk sweetener. Erythritol is about 60-70 percent as sweet as sugar in combination with various high-intensity sweeteners is used to round out the sweetness profile of beverages. Erythritol, a natural sweetener, has added benefit for processors interested in the natural and organic sectors.

Makers of Honest Tea, Bethesda, Md., use erythritol combined with organic agave syrup for its 10-Calorie Tangerine Green, an antioxidant-spiked organic green tea. Honest Tea's 'Weight is Over' line of four low-calorie beverages include the first organic zero-calorie sweetened beverage on the market.

Fat replacement

Fat replacement is enjoying new life as an effective strategy for weight management. Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble's Olestra is still the fat replacer of choice for a number of snack chip products by Frito Lay, Plano, Texas. The FDA recently approved the use of olestra in microwave popcorn.

ADM Kao LLC, Decatur, Ill., makes Enova oil - a 1,3 diglyceride-rich vegetable oil which sends less fat into the post-digestion system. As a result, less fat is stored. Enova is GRAS for use in a number of food-product categories, including spreads, baked goods, and meal-replacement beverages and bars.

The neutral-flavored oil requires little or no modifications in manufacturing and, because it also functions as a emulsifier, tends to produce moister and fluffier cakes. Stacey Marsh, founder of Flatout, Saline, Mich., credits Enova for the popularity of the company's Flatbread Light breads.

Body Composition

Healthy, long-term weight management entails targeting fat and not solely pounds. Some effective nutraceuticals have made a successful cross-over into the food and beverage sector.

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), recent research confirmed as safe for decreasing fat mass while maintaining muscle mass. CLA is also effective in helping subjects maintain the weight loss without the familiar loss-gain cycle most diet products are associated with. Lipid Nutrition, Channahon, Ill., makers of Clarinol brand CLA. CLA is believed to help decrease leptin, a hormone associated with increased body weight. For now, CLA is mostly used in beverages, sport/weight-loss bars and shakes, such as those from EAS (www.eas.com) , Golden, Col.

ForsLean from Sabinsa  (www.sabinsa.com), Piscataway, N.J., is another ingredient for processors leaning toward metabolic intervention. ForsLean is said to trigger metabolic processes induce thermogenesis.

Dairy Day

Research is invesitgating a postive role whey proteins and other components in dairy foods could have for weight loss.

Dairy derivatives - proteins, peptides and mineral components - may also help affect body composition. According to Mayo Clinic researchers, four servings of dairy foods per day in a reduced-calorie diet, combined with moderate exercise, helped obese adults lose a significant amount of weight and body fat.

The body requires more energy to digest protein than other foods. As a result one burns more calories after a protein meal - making whey protein isolate a perfect complement to any weight management plan.

The National Dairy Council, Rosemont, Ill., says that even with higher calorie intake, dairy products are effective in helping dieters lose weight at the same rate dieters who consume two servings of dairy a day and fewer calories.

A clinical trial published in the journal Obesity Research sheds light on why consuming dairy foods may help weight and fat loss. Edward Melanson, Ph.D., lead investigator and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado noted that when exercising adults on a slightly reduced-calorie diet consumed three to four servings of dairy foods daily, their metabolism changed so that their bodies burned more fat than they did when they had one serving of dairy under the same conditions.

Pete Huth, director of regulatory and research transfer, Dairy Management Institute (DMI), Rosemont, Ill., highlights the role of the essential amino acid leucine in improving body composition. High-quality proteins are rich in leucine, and whey protein contains more leucine than milk protein, egg protein and soy protein. Leucine mobilizes fats for oxidation, depleting reserves of body fat.

While protein helps to stabilize blood glucose levels by slowing the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, it also is thought to reduce hunger by lowering insulin levels and make it easier for the body to burn fat.

Whey protein contains bioactive components that help stimulate the release of two appetite-suppressing hormones - cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Donald Layman, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois, showed that whey protein has a greater impact on satiety than casein, the other protein in milk.

Next Proteins, Carlsbad, Calif., makes whey derivatives plus a full-line of whey protein products under the Designer Whey brand. The primary ingredient in the company's Detour-Go bars - a first of its kind in the all natural category - is whey protein.

Advances in ingredient technologies helped isolate and concentrate other effective dairy minerals, proteins and peptides into novel ingredients specifically for weight management, according to Eric Bastian, director of R&D, Glanbia Nutritionals, Monroe, Wisc. Glanbia developed Prolibra, a mineral-protein derivative of whey, to help influence weight management.

Science-based product development and consumer education will hopefully account for successful weight loss and management for the weight-challenged consumer.

Susan T. Borra, RD, president, IFIC Foundation (www.ific.org), Washington, DC, says "Potentially hindering consumers' success in improving their health is a lack of understanding of calories and current weight status, as well as purchase priorities and perceptions that health information is inconsistent."

Nine out of ten consumers in a recent IFIC Foundation Food & Health Survey were unable to provide an accurate estimate of their recommended daily caloric intake, nearly half would not even guess, and only one in three understands that a "calorie is a calorie."

Borra believes that a key knowledge consumers need to have is that larger portions have more calories. She agrees that the approach is simplistic and not particularly helpful to send the message that weight loss is just a matter of taking in fewer calories than you expend especially in light of emerging research on how the pedigree of calories matters in weight and girth management.

While exercise and lifestyle modifications can help manage or reduce body fat stores and health risks, thermogenic compounds work by directly stimulating energy expenditure. Energy expenditure is a good strategy to improve body weight loss and prevent (re)gain. Llipid mobilization inhibits energy (fat) storage and decreases fat uptake.

Janice Haley, vice president, Elite FX InC. (www.elitefxbev.com), Memphis, Tenn., developed Celsius, a carbonated beverage designed specifically to "naturally raise your metabolism by 12 percent over a three- to four-hour period." Launched in 2005, the soda won the Beverage Industry's Best New Product award for energy drink - drinking Celsius burns more calories than the drink itself contains.

Celsius contains a thermogenic blend of taurine, guarana extract, green tea leaf extract, caffeine, glucuronolactone and ginger extract - scientifically proven to stimulate the natural resting metabolic rate (RMR) that raises body temperature - which in turn causes the body to burn additional calories. Because the long-term effect of RMR stimulators on the body is debatable, Elite FX warns consumers: Celsius ought not to be consumed by children under 12 and the elderly and limits adult consumption to three bottles a day.

Another appetite suppressant ingredient currently in clinical trials with backing from major brands (Pfizer (www.pfizer.com), Groton, CT, Phytopharm (www.phytopharm.com), Cambridgeshire, UK, and now, Unilever (www.unilever.com), NJ) is Hoodia gordonii. The bioactive component of Hoodia is P57, a molecule Craig Payton, managing director at Stella Labs (www.stellalabs.com), Paramus, NJ, says can mimic hunger suppressing effect of glucose, but even more convincingly.

Phytobase Nutritionals Inc. (www.phytobase.com), Orem, Utah packs 950 mg of Hoodia in Bon-Java LeanCaffe to help suppress appetite and Rhodia rosea to increase fat-burning mechanisms in the body. Phytobase President Sam Gur says "Hoodia in LeanCaffe tricks the brain into shutting down the hunger mechanism and triggering the body into a state of satiety.

The emerging need for hunger suppression makes LeanCaffe an excellent hunger management and weight loss tool for the demographic that drinks coffee routinely."

At Unilever's Food Research Centre in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands, scientists are addressing health issues of developed and developing world and identifying optimal compositions and 'functional' agents supported with evidence from clinical trials to advance Unilever's leadership in weight "friendly" (control and prevention) foods.

The SlimFast maker is expected to launch a wide range of weight loss bars and beverages after it gets the necessary regulatory clearances for food and beverage applications.

Look to the Following Sources for More Info

ADM Kao LLC, Decatur, Ill. (www.admworld.com)
Bio Serae, Bram, France (www.bioserae.com)
Cargill Inc., Minneapolis (www.cargill.com)
Cevena Bioproducts Inc, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (www.cevena.com)
ConAgra Foods Inc., Minneapolis (www.conagra.com)
Dairy Management Inc., Rosemont, Ill. (www.dairyinfo.com)
DSM Nutritional Products Inc., Parsippany, N.J. (www.dsm.com)
Interhealth, Benicia, Calif. (www.interhealth.com)
Glanbia Nutritionals, Monroe, Wisc. (www.glanbia.com)
Lipid Nutrition, Channahon, Ill. (www.lipidnutrition.com)
National Dairy Council (www.nationaldairycouncil.org), Rosemont, Ill.
Next Proteins, Carlsbad, Calif. (www.nextproteins.com)
Orafti Active Food Ingredients, Malvern, Pa. (www.orafti.com)

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