Study into “feel full” foods to tackle obesity epidemic

Study into “feel full” foods to tackle obesity epidemic

University of Aberdeen nutritionists are developing and testing new foods with satiating qualities to help control appetite, manage weight and combat obesity. Their work – which is part of a major collaborative £6milllion EU-funded project – was discussed at the British Science Festival today (Wednesday September 5).

It’s hoped their research will help tackle the UK’s obesity epidemic – with estimations indicating that 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children in the UK will be obese by 2050.

The research aims to exploit better understanding of the biological processes in the stomach and the brain that underpin what makes us feel "full", and evaluate whether this approach is a viable weight management tool.

Dr Alexandra Johnstone from the University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health said: “Obesity is a major public health issue facing the European Union and reducing it is a priority for all European governments. This project aims to draw upon our improved understanding of appetite expression - how the foods we eat affect eating behaviour and appetite.  If we can develop new food products that fill people up quicker and for longer and taste good then we can help moderate appetite whilst maintaining a healthy balanced diet.

“To date, satiety-enhancing food products on the market have not been effective or appealing in terms of taste.  Taste and hedonistic experience of food supercedes the health benefits of a food product which is why overweight consumers tend to reject low‐energy, high‐fibre diets although they promote weight loss. 

“However, changes to the structure and viscosity of food structures have also been found to affect taste and reduce the pleasure of consumption.

“Our study will look to understand the part flavour, texture and even the visual appeal of food play in contributing to the feeling of being “full” and examine how much satisfaction through eating can be attributed from physiological properties and how much is perceptive.

“Through the project we will also examine the appetite response to novel foods and how they impact on the gut. We know that the gastrointestinal tract (GI) tract is important for influencing signals that control hunger, satiety and food intake and this work will help us investigate this further.”

The project will use advanced food processing technologies including advanced forms of fermentation, vacuum technology, enzyme application, emulsification, ultra‐filtration, drying, sublimation and freezing, heat treatment, protein modification and encapsulation -  to modify the structure of the foods which accelerate satiation, enhance satiety and to reduce appetite.