Feel fuller foods - the answer to obesity?
British scientists have developed an ingredient that makes foods more filling. Preliminary tests in overweight people showed it prevented weight gain.
Researchers at London's Imperial College and the University of Glasgow have developed an ingredient containing propionate, a short chain fatty acid that stimulates the gut to release hormones that act on the brain to reduce hunger.
Propionate is produced naturally when fibre in the diet is fermented by microbes in the gut. The new ingredient, inulin-propionate ester (IPE), provides much larger amounts of propionate than people can generate from a normal diet, which usually contains only moderate amounts of fibre.
Researchers gave 20 volunteers either IPE or inulin, a dietary fibre, and then allowed them to eat as much as they liked from a buffet. The team found that those given IPE ate 14 percent less on average but had higher blood concentrations of appetite-reducing hormones such as peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1).
In a follow-up randomised study, in which 60 overweight volunteers took part, half were given IPE powder to add to their food and half were given inulin. After 24 weeks, the IPE group experienced significantly reduced weight gain and had less fat in their abdomens and livers compared with the inulin group. Only one out of 25 volunteers given IPE who completed the study gained more than 3 percent of their body weight, compared with six out of 24 given inulin. None of the IPE group gained more than 5 percent of their body weight, compared with four in the inulin group.
Although the sample size was small, these findings offer "encouraging signs" that IPE might help prevent weight gain in overweight people. Researchers are working with Imperial Innovations, a technology commercialisation company focused on developing promising British academic research, on taking IPE to market. The kinds of foods IPE could be included in, or added to, are currently being explored.
You can learn more in our online Nutrition and Weight Management course
Written by Victoria Trowse
Chambers, E. S. et al. (2014). Effects of targeted delivery of propionate to the human colon on appetite regulation, body weight maintenance and adiposity in overweight adults. Published online at: http://gut.bmj.com/content/early/2014/11/17/gutjnl-2014-307913.short?g=w_gut_ahead_sidetab