With over 1.6 billion overweight adults globally, of which approximately a third are classified as obese, ‘globesity’ is continuing to be a growing problem within our societies.
Obesity rates have increased dramatically over the last three decades, having more than doubled across all age ranges since the 1960s. Time has shown that the solution is not simple and that simply advising people that they should be eating less and exercising more doesn’t work. The quest for innovative products to help control eating by regulating appetite continues.
Helping consumers to feel less hungry is an approach to weight management that attracts interest because it has the potential to decrease inter-meal hunger and so reduce overall energy intake.
The European market for weight management products is fairly well developed and is projected to grow over the next few years. This is partly due to a detectable shift in consumers away from traditional diet products, towards the longer-term notion of appetite control and weight management through lifestyle choice.
Another advantage is the repositioning of weight management products towards a more general audience, rather than those who are ‘on a diet’. This has widened the existing market and makes space for new products, such as beverages that help consumers with appetite regulation.
Appetite can be divided into two key components
Following a meal, the drive to eat is low and gradually builds until the next eating episode. The timing of this is dependent on internal and external factors, the majority associated with the time of day. The regulation of satiety and satiation is influenced by many factors, involving the interaction between physiological processes in the brain and body, and social and physical environments.
People don’t always eat when they are hungry, and they do not always refrain from eating when satiated. These facts drive us towards a better understanding of the interplaying factors contributing to overeating.
Changes in European legislation in relation to health and nutrition claims are currently being made, and European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) opinions are likely to alter the market profile in the coming years.
So far, few claims have obtained a positive opinion, and EFSA has asked the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) to draft guidance on scientific requirements for health claims related to appetite ratings, weight management and blood glucose concentrations.
The effects of modulating appetite in response to food consumption has been recognised as beneficial, as long as subsequent energy intake can be demonstrated as a tool to decrease bodyweight.
There is a growing volume of scientific evidence supporting the health benefits associated with many food and drinks ingredients. However, the dose to be used and the mode of use are not always relevant to the claims made on products. The approach used for scientific research doesn’t match the approach by which the NDA panel assesses the claim, and, in turn, through which a commercial product will be promoted.
Weight management and appetite control are complex and involve physiological, psychological and environmental components. The body has natural defences against weight loss, but clearly tolerates overconsumption. Triggers to eat are a mixture of hedonic and homeostatic signals, where the hedonic are clearly dominant.
The major barrier in appetite control is whether we can manipulate these processes to control energy intake, and it’s only now that we’re identifying the tools to be able to do this.
New ingredients and new applications are possibly the answer to a very multi-factorial problem, and it’s a challenge, as well as an opportunity, for the industry to address this issue.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020