Chicory root fibre could trigger weight loss, finds new research

By Michelle Knott

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Researchers at the University of Maastricht have found that oligofructose (a carbohydrate-based dietary fiber extracted from chicory roots) can reduce the energy intake of healthy volunteers by 10 per cent while maintaining normal levels of satiety and hunger.

The research appeared in the British Journal of Nutrition​.

The reduction in consumption was measured over a test day at the end of a 13-day trial. “Probably the effect has to build up over time, but that’s not clear at the moment,”​ says Professor Klaas Westerterp, one of the authors of the study.

The experiment was not long enough to demonstrate weight loss among the volunteers, but it would be reasonable to expect weight loss to follow if the reduction in energy intake continued.

“The outcome of the Maastricht study is a good result and invites further research. We’re looking into the possibilities,”​ says Iwan Blankers, general manager of oligofructose producer Sensus, which funded the study.

The Maastricht study is unlikely to deliver the strength of evidence on its own to support an application under article 13 of the European health claims legislation.

Blood glucose
In April, EFSA proposed guidelines to clarify the sort of evidence that would be acceptable in an application relating to appetite, weight management and blood glucose.
The guidance will not be finalised until the end of a consultation period in August, but the draft document currently suggests that studies supporting satiety or weight management claims may need to be carried out over a month or longer.

“It’s impossible to put a timescale on any future application at the moment until we can confirm these results in further studies,”​ Blankers told NutraIngredients​. He added that there have been no specific article 13 applications made for oligofructose so far:

“There have been some generic claims [about extracts from chicory roots] but the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) panel thought the substances were not fully enough characterised to give a positive opinion.”


Oligofructose is extracted from chicory root on an industrial scale. Because it cannot be broken down by digestion enzymes, it has the same effect in the intestines as a dietary fibre. Its low calorific value means it can be used as a substitute for fat and sugar in food products. Chicory root extract is also a source of the dietary fibre inulin.

The volunteers in the Maastricht study received either a placebo or a dose of oligofructose (either 5 grams or 8 grams twice daily). Their food intake was measured at the beginning and end of the trial period.

After 13 days, the energy consumption of those taking the higher dose of oligofructose had decreased by 10 per cent. Moreover, higher concentrations of the satiety hormones PYY and GLP-I were measured in the blood, while feelings of hunger and satiety remained the same.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Br. J. Nutr​. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114511002
Title: Effects of oligofructose on appetite profile, glucagon-like peptide 1 and peptide YY3-36 concentrations and energy intake
Authors: Verhoef, Meyer and Westerterp

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