With 50 per cent of Europeans and 62 per cent of Americans classed as overweight, the food industry is waking up to the potential of products for weight loss and management. Despite the category estimated to already be worth $7bn, serious challenges remain. "[The biggest challenge is] to be acceptable as a serious category," Dr. Jorg Gruenwald from Berlin-based Analyze & Realize told NutraIngredients.com. The category has come in for criticism, said Dr. Gruenwald, with some being partly correct. The conference, organised by the International Society for Antioxidants for Health and Nutrition (ISANH), is discussing the latest advances in ingredients and dietary supplements for weight management and weight loss. Dr. Marvin Edeas, chairman of the conference´s organising committee and president of the French Society of Antioxidants, said: "From current used ingredients and their improvement, to emergent molecules and new mechanisms involved in weight loss and weight management, this international event aims to bring together the world specialists in the field (scientists, industrialists, regulatory bodies...) in order to debate and exchange ideas, leading to the design of the slimming ingredients of tomorrow." According to an overview by Dr. Gruenwald, the slimming ingredients market can be divided into five groups based on the mechanisms of action - boosting fat burning/ thermogenesis, inhibiting protein breakdown, suppressing appetite/ boosting satiety (feeling of fullness), blocking fat absorption, and regulating mood (linked to food consumption). Numerous ingredients are available, he said, with varying levels of supporting scientific evidence, ranging from the well researched ingredients like green tea polyphenols, CLA, Hoodia gordonii, DHEA, hydroxy-methylbutyrate (a metabolit of leucine), and chromium picolinate, to ingredients with only limited available data, like L-carnitine, chitosan, and calcium (with dairy). But the category needs to be taken seriously, said Dr. Gruenwald, with products claiming "lose eight kilograms in eight days" damaging the credibility of the category. In a round table discussion to address the question, "What are the ways to improve the scientific credibility of slimming ingredients?" the day´s speakers were given the opportunity to air their views. Dr. Edeas called for industry to make more of an effort with academia, since both are needed to obtain credibility, he said. He also questioned the role of smaller companies, asking how they could develop such ingredients without having the resources to fund randomised clinical trials. Dr. Vicente Mical from the Universidad Miguel Hernandez in Spain said companies also needed to implement education programs to improve the public´s understanding of science, while Dr. Gruenwald went one further and called for a full approach to convince not only the public but also opinion leaders and doctors. At the close of the day, Dr. Jason Halford from the University of Liverpool called the meeting "very positive". "The food industry has taken a terrible pasting over obesity, and especially childhood obesity. [Slimming Ingredients Germany 2007] shows a positive reaction," he said.