Surveys from across the globe report negative changes in eating and physical activity behaviour during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 with a King’s College London and Ipsos MORI survey (2,254 respondents) finding 48% of respondents say they have put on weight during lockdown.
Recent ADM research (OutsideVoice Consumer Survey) shows reasons for increased concern over weight management are varied but changes in eating habits and other daily behaviours such as exercise are commonplace and many have become increasingly aware of obesity as a risk factor for COVID-19 morbidity.
But June Lin, Vice President of Marketing, Health & Wellness at ADM, points out that market research indicates weight management is now seen as an act of self-care that feels good, without the need for deprivation (Hartman Consumer Research October 2020).
A holistic approach
"In their quest to take ownership of their health, consumers are becoming more aware of how being overweight or obese can influence susceptibility to a variety of conditions, including diabetes and heart disease," Lin says.
"Rather than simply cutting calories, audiences are educating themselves about the benefits of taking a more holistic approach to weight management, for example, by understanding more about the role of the microbiome in overall health."
Lin adds that this holistic approach is shining a spotlight on the importance of the gut microbiome and how balancing different types of microorganisms in the gut could impact digestion and even weight management.
"Consumer understanding about the relationship between certain gut microorganisms and metabolic health – such as the interrelationship between obesity and diabetes – is creating interesting opportunities for future research and development in this field," she says.
As such, online searches for the word ‘probiotic’ have increased over the last five years, while searches for ‘prebiotics’ and ‘gut biome’ have been rising since 2018.
Indeed, in China, the trend for probiotics making weight management claims were reported in 2018, with probiotics targeting weight management receiving a five times more consumer engagement than other probiotics, according to Lumina Intelligence.
Zoe Coleman, digital marketing manager for Lumina, tells NutraIngredients that Google search trends suggest there are a lot of consumers looking for reviews of probiotics for weight management and online searches for the question “do probiotics help you lose weight” has grown by 223% in the last 12 months.
However she points out that average ratings for the products already on the market are fairly mediocre (an average star rating of 4.17/5 in the US).
She says: "There’s lots of pre-purchase interest in the efficacy of probiotics on weight management, but consumers are less impressed post-purchase."
This suggests huge opportunity for innovation in this space
Meeting the demand
Lin outlines two products in ADM's portfolio which target this trend, including Fibersol, which is a soluble dietary fiber shown to nourish the gastrointestinal microbiome and contribute to reducing the rise in blood glucose after meals.
The second is ADM's proprietary BPL1 probiotic strain, available in both live (BPL1) and heat-treated forms (HT-BPL1), both of which are supported by positive clinical studies in the areas of abdominal visceral fat and BMI reduction.
Lin adds: "The heat treated strain offers extra stability and therefore suitability for use in a wide range of food, beverage and dietary supplement formats, making the ingredient an effective solution that offers greater versatility for manufacturers."