Weight management trends for 2007

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Weight loss, Obesity, Nutrition

A diet is not just for January. Sure, the wagon-ride to a healthy
weight is a bumpy one and some won't manage to cling on. But global
government efforts to reduce the impact of the obesity crisis on
public health are ongoing, and greater awareness is the cue for the
food and supplements to innovate with products that can help people
stay on the wagon.

Satiety

Alongside - and often within - food products aimed specifically at dieters, ingredients to boost satiety and help control appetite are gaining recognition as useful ways to help dieters stay on track.

Although there are numerous fad diets that promise weight-loss by restricting certain food groups, most dieticians recommend a balanced healthy diet including copious fruits and veg, combined with regular exercise.

But for people who have previously subsisted on burgers, red meat, and processed food, smaller portions of healthier foods may leave them feeling less full - and more likely to break ranks and reach for snacks between meals.

A growing host of ingredients are becoming available for manufacturers to boost the satiety provided by their products - from DSM's Fabuless to Lipid Nutrition's Pinnothin. And responsibility is not left just to the food-makers: the success of satiety supplements such as Slumthru (containing Fabuless), recently launched in the UK, depend on consumers grasping the concept.

Boosting the benefits of exercise

"Calories in, versus calories out"​ is one mantra popular with responsible weight loss advocates.

But what if the pain resulted in a little more gain?

French company Berkem has tapped the potential of coffee beans to this end. It is aiming to extend uses of its Svetol ingredient from supplements to functional foods as it conducts more research into its benefits.

The company says Svetol has two uses: to regulate of blood glucose levels; and to spur weight loss.

In the first instance, it is taken before a meal. In the second, it is taken afterwards to encourage energy to be drawn from fat deposits rather than from stores in the liver, thereby encouraging weight loss.

The proposed mechanism of action is that it inhibits the activity of glucose-6-phosphatase, which is responsible for the release of glucose stored in the liver into general circulation. This means that glucose is instead drawn from deposits in adipose tissue, stimulating weight loss.

Under normal circumstances it take 15 to 20 minutes of exercise before the energy in adipose tissue is tapped. Thus, says Berkem, Svetol saves 20 minutes - but that is enough to have an action on fat.

Calorie neutral, calorie negative

A drink that tastes good and has a calorie count of big fat zero? The beverage giants cottoned on decades ago with diet drinks that 'Can help weight loss as part of a calorie controlled diet'.

It's taken a while for the market to get to the next step. But last year saw the launch of Enviga from Nestle and Coca Cola following research that found that green tea extract EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) could speed up metabolism and energy use when combined with caffeine.

Tests have shown that drinking three cans of Enviga everyday could burn an extra 60-100 calories in thin to normal weight people, the firms announced.

Useful tool or a gimmick that preys on dieter's pockets? Pressure group the Center for Science in the Public Interest is cynical about the significance of the calorie negative effect. So much so, in fact, that it has threatened the companies with legal action unless it curbs the claims it is making.

Whether CSPI or the food giants win out remains to be seen, but sales of Enviga will be closely watched in the coming year. If it does well, it could herald the start of the calorie negative era for the diet foods industry.

Marketing weight loss responsibly

Yesterday's announcement by the US Federal Trade Commission that it has reached settlements with marketers of weight that it says made unsubstantiated claims about supplement products may have some effect in the sector's credibility, however - at least on that side of the Atlantic.

"Diet pills only lighten wallet"​, screams the headline in the Hamilton Spectator, Canada; "Eager to work off the holiday turkey and sugar cookies that have lodged in your hips and thighs? You might want to pass on the diet pills,"​ says Florida's St Petersburg Times.

But the FTC's objections lie with the marketing of products, not in their formulation.

Green tea extract or Hoodia gordonii might not be a magic bullet. But lets not forget that there is a responsible side to the weight loss industry that is not​ claiming it is so, just to get the impatient to part with their cash.

Some​ positive results have been seen in studies, and dismissing all these ingredients wholesale as a result of a handful of companies over-egging the science could amount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Not only could it stymie a growing market, but it could turn dieters away from tools that could actually help them on their way.

Related topics: Suppliers, Weight management

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