Weight management – Keeping the kilos off (Part 2): Challenges and delivery methods

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15 Nov 2017 --- Weight management is a hot topic in the nutrition industry, and NutritionInsight has been asking for the views of medical professionals and industry insiders on the next steps to take. Today in the second part of a special report, we look at the challenges currently being presented to the industry and delivery methods being used for weight management products.

Carrying the weight of challenges
One challenge for companies is that there is a lot of overpromising with weight management products in the market. This is according to Anke Sentko, Vice President Regulatory Affairs and Nutrition Communication, Beneo: “A sustainable approach to managing weight that also provides the benefits consumers and health professionals are hoping for is only possible if the metabolic effect of the ingredients (and the final product) is considered as well.”

Karin Nielsen, Vice President of ID Nutra SL, believes that the main challenge is how to assist people in changing their lifestyles. “Weight loss comprises dietary changes, changes in exercise and supporting products for controlling appetite and meal habits,” Nielsen says.

“The market is comprised of fad-type products with no validated effects, and the food industry attempts to improve the nutritional profile of recognized brands that would be better excluded from the diet,” Nielsen adds. “Furthermore, the pharmaceutical industry influences professional advisors such as dieticians and pharmacists to recommend meal-replacement products that do not really facilitate a permanent change of lifestyle.”

“When working with [higher protein and fiber] ingredients, one of the key challenges can be delivering the desired functionality with a consumer-preferred taste and texture,” notes Daniel Eder, Product Development & Application, WILD Flavors & Specialty Ingredients, ADM. “Coupled with the continuing prevalence of obesity and growing health awareness amongst consumers, providing palatable and enjoyable options represents a key market opportunity for brands looking to broaden the appeal of weight management products.”

Sugar provides sensory qualities beyond sweetness, and this also needs to be considered when designing foods that taste good but contain fewer calories, according to the ISA representative. “This can present some challenges for sugar substitution in some products, but these challenges can be readily addressed,” says a spokesperson for the International Sweeteners Association (ISA). “The good news is that research is showing a lot of positive options for lowering sugar intake, which may be helpful to some people in achieving a reduction in overall calorie intake and thus in weight control.”

A different challenge, according to the ISA spokesperson, comes in the form of some of the misperceptions around low-calorie sweeteners and weight gain. “It is important for all of us to combat these misperceptions, when we have few enough tools to help with nutritional management of overweight,” the ISA spokesperson says. “While low-calorie sweeteners are not a magic bullet in weight loss, many randomized controlled trials (RCTs), considered the gold-standard for clinical research, consistently show that low-calorie sweeteners can help people reduce their overall calorie intake and therefore be a useful tool for weight loss and weight management strategies, when used in place of sugar and as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. (Gibson 2014, Rogers 2016)”

“When it comes to both weight loss and weight management, the overall nutritional quality of the diet must be considered,” advises Jenny Rosborough, Nutritionist and Campaign Manager at Action on Sugar. “When reformulating, companies are encouraged to remove the least nutritious components such as sugar and saturated fat. Companies can also support a reduction in excess calorie intake by reducing the portion size of their product.”

Delivery systems to help shed weight
As the overall move toward health consciousness continues, the demand for health-oriented solutions in a convenient format is also growing. This is according to Eder of ADM, who believes that consumers are increasingly leading busier lives and consequently set aside less and less time for meal preparation.

“Convenience products, particularly those in a liquid format, therefore show significant potential for the weight management category,” Eder notes. “For example, RTD beverages that offer functional benefits and wellness attributes are shelf stable and quick and easy to consume on the move. In addition, bars, bites and smaller snack-size portions are also important for time-scarce consumers looking to follow a healthy diet, outside the constraints of more structured meal times.”

ID Nutra also believes the delivery systems that are optimal are convenience products that complement a low caloric healthy diet change. “These can be anything ranging from supplements, lozenges, gums, drinks and snacks to actual ready meal inclusions,” says Nielsen. “I believe protein and fibers are good solutions for creating more satiating meals, whereas satiety and metabolic actives are more relevant to incorporate into a handy convenient format that can be used on the go.”

Similarly, Megan De Stefano, Global Probiotics Marketing Leader, DuPont Nutrition & Health, notes: “Any delivery systems that are convenient for the consumer, especially those that can travel with you throughout your day, will be ideal.”

A problem with weight management food delivery systems is that they tend to incorporate high-glycemic ingredients, according to Sentko of Beneo. “High-glycemic ingredients don’t help consumers in their weight management efforts, as high-glycemic diets can lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes and obesity,” Sentko notes. “Blood sugar management plays a key role in weight management and a major driver of metabolism, insulin, is influenced by the blood sugar level.”

“Lower levels of this regulating hormone, insulin, are beneficial for weight management as they allow for fat burning,” Sentko continues. “Beneo’s chicory fibers and functional carbohydrates (Palatinose and Isomalt) lower the blood glucose responses of food and drink products (a benefit that has been confirmed by the European Commission with respective EU health claims).”

“Beneo’s prebiotic chicory fibers have shown in various scientific studies that they improve appetite regulation and decrease food intake in overweight and obese adults and children, helping them to eat less, naturally,” Sentko adds.

Don’t forget to check back in at NutritionInsight.com on Friday for the third and final part of our special report on weight management.

By Paul Creasy

Sources:
1. Gibson S, Drewnowski J, Hill A, Raben B, Tuorila H and Windstrom E. Consensus statement on benefits of low-calorie sweeteners. Nutrition Bulletin 2014; 39(4): 386-389
2. Rogers PJ, Hogenkamp PS, de Graaf K, et al. Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies. Int J Obes 2016; 40(3): 381-94

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