The guidance, along with others in bones, joints and teeth and antioxidants and cardiovascular issues, have been criticised for regurgitating what has already been published in individual opinions rather than offering guidance to win claims (something EFSA is under no obligation to do), but UK whey supplier Volac said the draft had value.
“We welcome EFSA open consultation and the additional guidance on the scientific requirements for health claims related to weight maintenance,” said Suzane Leser, nutrition manager for lifestyle ingredients at Volac and vice-chair the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA), referring to EFSA’s call for stakeholder input until August 31 this year.
“Body weight management is a complex and multifactorial task in which protein has the potential to play an important role in several aspects of body weight regulation,” she added. “Therefore it is important to understand which outcome measures and studies EFSA will consider appropriate for a successful application.”
“This public consultation places weight management as a key priority for guidance and this is important because weight management remains an important health benefit, not only for the overweight and obese, but also for those who are physically active.”
Leser said rejected article 13 whey and protein claims could benefit from the guidance.
“We have learned from previous EFSA opinions that protein is a sufficiently characterised food constituent and that the achievement of a normal body weight is a beneficial physiological effect. However, in the lack of guidance, Article 13.1 submissions for both protein and whey protein at that stage did not provide evidence from which conclusions could be drawn to support a claim on weight management.”
“This additional guidance from EFSA shall support applicants in selecting and/or developing the right studies to substantiate and establish the role of protein in weight management. Studies of appropriate three months duration at least, under specific conditions of physical activity and/or energy restriction, and which attempt to explain the mechanisms of action of protein, are emerging.”
An example of EFSA’s weight management guidance states:
“A sustained increase in lean body mass may be a beneficial physiological effect for physically active subjects, including trained individuals. Also a ‘reduced’ loss in lean body mass during energy restriction leading to weight loss can be considered beneficial for overweight and obese subjects even if lean body mass is not increased. To this end, human studies assessing the effects of a food/constituent on lean body mass changes need to be of appropriate duration (e.g. three months).”
The full draft guidance can be found here.