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New Products Weigh In


Reduced-calorie yogurt products benefit from the addition of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that boosts calcium absorption and rounds out the flavor profile of high-intensity sweeteners.

Stories abound with the grim news: The obesity epidemic is spreading, along with weight-related illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Experts consider as many as 66% of U.S. adults overweight or obese, but the weight issue is not just a homegrown problem. Approximately 400 million adults worldwide rank as obese, with 1.6 billion considered overweight.

So, the battle of the bulge continues, with 80% of those trying to lose weight designing their own diet plans, and only 6% using a commercial diet plan, according to a study by Mintel International Group, Chicago. “Consumers go through diet plans with great speed, because they want results fast,” says Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst, Mintel. “If they feel a diet isn’t working, they look immediately for an alternative plan.” Obviously, this signals a product-development need that begs to be filled.

The 45 million Americans who diet each year are increasingly searching for foods to help ease the diet process. The U.S. weight-management market alone is a $3.7 billion industry and is fast expanding. Indeed, the weight-loss, nutrition and sports market reached $16.8 billion in sales in 2005, a 6.6% increase over the previous year. 

A diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy oils is well-documented as essential to health and well being. But a new generation of weight-loss products is proving a boon to consumers—and to the weight-management product market.

Focus on satiety 

Satiety, a feeling of fullness, is one of the hottest concepts in weight-management efforts. Satiety ingredients not only give dieters a feeling of fullness, they help dieters stay positive and maintain the willpower to avoid snacking between meals. Research shows that, on average, people eat the same weight of food over a couple of days, even when calories differ. If the amount of food remains the same, but calories per portion weight is lower, it should promote weight loss while minimizing hunger.

Cholecystokinin (CCK), the protein that provides the fullness feeling, is an important regulator of appetite in humans. Following food consumption, CCK is released from cells in the small intestine, promoting a feeling of fullness by slowing food movement from the stomach. It also acts on nerves in the stomach lining that tell the brain the stomach is full. 

Manufacturers have valid reasons for centering weight-management programs on satiety. “We chose satiety because, when we were formulating foods, we didn’t want foods that could be identified as ‘calorie-reduced,’” says Doris Dougherty, senior food scientist, Tate & Lyle, Decatur, IL. “Our research showed us that consumers don’t want products that scream ‘diet.’ They want products that satisfy their hunger and can be integrated into a normal routine.”

Tate & Lyle anticipates 21% growth in health-and-wellness packaged foods in the United States and Western Europe through 2010. “Many consumers are now looking beyond supplements to address specific health needs and have a greater recognition of the nutrients that are beneficial, such as fiber,” says Harvey Chimoff, director of marketing, Americas, Tate & Lyle.

Under the weight-management and obesity platform of Tate & Lyle’s Enrich program, the company identified fibers and two proteins, whey and dairy, as providing satiety. Low-calorie fibers provide bulk, while proteins have staying power in the stomach. The company targeted four product types: smoothies, drinkable yogurt, cereal bars and flavored water.

Other ingredients can provide the fullness feeling. SuperCitri- Max, manufactured by InterHealth Nutraceuticals, Benicia, CA, contains Garcinia cambogia, a fruit from India and southern Asia. Hydroxycitric acid is extracted from the fruit and binds to calcium and potassium. It signals the brain to turn off hunger signals, and it also inhibits the enzymes that convert carbohydrates into fat. The acid has been shown to burn fat, promote healthy cholesterol levels and reduce body weight. A study conducted at Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, and published in Gene Expression (2004; 11:251-62), showed that hydroxycitric acid also increases the activity of genes involved with carbohydrate and fat metabolism, as well as appetite control, including a family of genes involved with the signaling activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

Fullness from fiber 

The choice between soluble and insoluble fiber types depends on the characteristics needed. Some dietary fibers facilitate a low glycemic index because of both soluble and insoluble attributes, and neither type contributes significantly to the caloric content of a product. Insoluble fiber is not solubilized by the intestine, but is eliminated in human waste. However, a viscous soluble fiber, such as beta glucan, has a significant weight-loss impact, because it delays absorption, builds viscosity in the gut, increases satiety and transfers nutrients through the intestine.

“Soluble fiber is the critical factor for weight loss, but there are different soluble fibers,” says Scott Dumler, president, Oat Ingredients, Inc., Boulder, CO. Inulin, for instance, is a soluble fiber that does not create viscosity and is clear in liquid formulations. Oat psyllium and barley build viscosity but do not function in shelf-stable drink mixes.

Of course, taste is critical, no matter how nutritious a product may be. According to a Monitoring Perspective from Yankelovich, Chapel Hill, NC, 72% of people said if food doesn’t taste good, they won’t eat it and that 79% want food companies to develop healthier foods that taste better. To counter the bitterness and grittiness of many fibers, Tate & Lyle uses corn fiber, which is similar to corn syrup in that it acts as a binder, particularly in cereal bars.

Another fiber ingredient, oligofructose, shows promise for weight management by limiting feelings of hunger and energy intake. A soluble dietary fiber, oligofructose is not digested in the stomach or small intestine, but is selectively fermented by the intestinal flora in the large intestine. Because it has a moderately sweet taste—30% to 65% the sweetness of sugar—and delivers only about 1.5 kcal per gram, it can act as a partial sugar replacer.

Animal and human studies have pointed to oligofructose supplements as a means of managing food and energy intake, leading Orafti Active Food Ingredients, Tienen, Belgium, to sponsor a human volunteer study to access the effects of Beneo™ oligofructose on appetite and food intake in humans. The results of the study, unveiled in Nov. 2006 at Health Ingredients Europe, Frankfurt, Germany, showed that this ingredient increases satiety, and reduces hunger, prospective food consumption and energy intake. In announcing the results, Anne Franck, executive vice president of science and technology, Orafti, said that inducing satiety by including oligofructose “offers an interesting approach to manage body weight and help tackle the obesity problem. Beneo oligofructose should allow food manufacturers to increase the satiety potential of their food products, thus helping consumers not to overeat themselves.”

Another fiber ingredient for weight management, called Z Trim, from Fibergel Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Z Trim Holdings, Inc., Mundelein, IL, is an insoluble fiber made from corn and oat hulls. The gel is made by a patented process that breaks down the cellular structure of the starting cellulosic material and separates it into a functional gel that can be dried to facilitate handling. Not only does it contribute to satiety, suppressing appetite, it acts as a zero-calorie fat-replacement gel that can mimic fat in certain applications. The company suggests a fat replacement level of up to 50% in baked goods, dips, dressings, sauces, spreads, meats, dairy products and desserts.

Because it absorbs water, it can increase the juiciness of low-fat meats. It also has the ability to maintain crispness while reducing oil pick-up in foods, reducing the net calories.

Eggs-pectations for satiety 

No less effective in the battle for satiety is the ordinary egg. Working with researchers in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Wayne State University, Detroit, the American Egg Board (AEB), Park Ridge, IL, investigated the impact of protein’s macronutrient composition on satiety and subsequent energy consumption in overweight and obese individuals. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition (2005; 24:510-515), looked at the satiety effects of an egg breakfast compared to that of a bagel breakfast.

The egg breakfast (21% protein, 36% carbohydrate and 43% fat) consisted of two scrambled eggs, two pieces of toast and one tablespoon of reduced-calorie fruit spread. The bagel breakfast (16% protein, 55% carbohydrate and 29% fat) consisted of a bagel, two tablespoons of cream cheese and 3 oz. of nonfat yogurt. Both breakfasts were similar in weight, 185 grams, and caloric content, 340 calories. The 28 women tested were randomly assigned to eat an egg or a bagel breakfast, after which they filled out a questionnaire evaluating hunger and food cravings, and ate lunch 3.5 hours later, with instructions to eat as much as they wanted. Participants filled out diet records for 24 hours. The results showed that hunger for those who ate the eggs was much lower three hours after breakfast, and caloric intake was about 140 less calories. Over a 24-hour period, those who ate the egg breakfast consumed 430 less calories.

A follow-up study, to be presented at the Experimental Biology Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., this month, shows that women who ate an egg breakfast over an eight-week period, five days a week, combined with a low-calorie diet, lost about 6 to 8 lbs., compared to those who ate a bagel breakfast and lost 3.5 lbs.

“It fits together nicely. First the acute test shows that people eating a satiating macronutrient, eggs, eat less. Follow that up with a study that combines the eggs with a low-calorie diet, and we find that people are better able to stay on a diet, while losing more weight,” Donald McNamara, Ph.D., executive director, AEB Egg Nutrition Center.

Sweet talk 

Increased demand for reduced-calorie foods also is propelling significant activity in the sweetener market. Replacing sugar requires that the functional characteristics of sugar—bulk, browning and taste, for example—be met and balanced by the correct combination of high-intensity sweeteners, polyols or other low-calorie sweeteners.

Today, aspartame is the mostcommon high-intensity sweetener in diet soft drinks. “Aspartame is closest to sugar in its taste profile,” says Kevin Bauer, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, The NutraSweet Company, Chicago. “Most top diet colas contain either 100% aspartame or an aspartame blend.”

However, replacing sugar in many beverages with almost any high-intensity sweetener is relatively easy, as water can make up for sugar’s missing bulk. Other high-intensity sweeteners used in U.S. products include acesulfame potassium, sucralose and neotame. “In the last five to six years, there has been a tremendous move from products sweetened with one ingredient to products sweetened with a blend of sweeteners to achieve the best taste,” says Graham Hall, president and COO, Nutrinova, Inc., Somerset, NJ. “We blend ace K (acesulfame potassium), which provides a high-impact sweetness at the beginning of tasting, with aspartame or sucralose, which have a lingering sweetness. It’s important to find the correct ratio between ingredients in order to achieve a more sugar-like taste.”

Today’s diet beverages may even include some sugar, if the end product is a mid-calorie soda. “If you think of sugar as a bell curve, all high-potency sweeteners exhibit a certain taste profile with a certain onset and linger, and all fall around sugar’s bell curve,” says Bauer. “Aspartame lingers past sugar, but ace K has a quicker onset. You want to bring all of these bell curves together and modulate the onset and linger combination of the sweetener ingredients to get closest to that bell curve.”

People who buy healthier-foryou beverages, such as bottled water, sports drinks, low-sugar fruit juices and diet sodas, also often are looking for ways to increase their dietary-fiber intake. Nutriose, a patented family of high-purity soluble fibers made from corn and wheat developed by Roquette Freres, Lestrem, France, provides a simple and effective means to add significant dietary fiber and accompanying health benefits to beverages, without compromising the taste or texture.

Used in 50% reduced-sugar water- or juice-based beverages, Nutriose reduces off-note flavors caused by high-intensity sweeteners, added vitamins or acid bite from juices or teas. With a fiber content of 85%, it also provides 3 grams of fiber per 8-oz. serving. In addition to its mouthfeel and taste benefits in low- or no-sugar drinks, Nutriose is stable in lowpH/ high-acidity beverages and has excellent digestive tolerance. The prebiotic soluble fiber also lowers glycemic response.

Beyond beverages 

High-intensity sweeteners are used in numerous categories besides soft drinks. In nonliquid products, replacing sugar becomes more complicated, so low-calorie sweeteners, such as polyols and some prebiotic fibers, are useful.

“High-intensity sweeteners are many times the sweetness of sugar, whereas most polyols are less than equal to the sweetness of sugar. As a result, polyols are most commonly used in combination with high-intensity sweeteners,” says Ross Craig, product manager of xylitol, Danisco Sweeteners, Ardsley, NY. “You use a polyol as the bulking agent to deliver the body, texture, mouthfeel and general characteristic of the food, while the high-intensity sweetener takes the place of sugar’s sweetness.”

To determine the most-successful blend of sweeteners in a reduced-calorie product, first consider the functional characteristics sugar typically provides in that food, such as volume, baking spread, moisture, taste, texture, crispness or bulking. “Different polyols have different characteristics,” says Donna Brooks, product manager, Litesse and lactitol, Danisco Sweeteners. “Some are lower or higher in calories, thresholds for consumption, pricing or sweetness levels. Because no one polyol is exactly like sugar, the sensory criteria of the end product determines which combination is best.”

Xylitol, for example, almost equals sugar in sweetness, and can be used with lower levels of high-intensity sweeteners. Lactitol has a clean, sweet taste similar to sugar, and because its mild sweetness registers at about 40% of sucrose’s power, it is often used as a bulking agent in combination with high-intensity sweeteners. Litesse polydextrose is a prebiotic fiber. It also can mimic sugar and, in some cases, fat, recreating the sensory experience associated with fat and sugar.

Combining lactitol and polydextrose with other sweeteners in formulations like ice cream, baked goods and chocolates, can deliver ideal texture and bulking and also depresses the freezing point in frozen sugar-free desserts.

Maltitol is used frequently as a sugar substitute in a variety of confectionery, baked goods, ice creams, dairy desserts, sauces and fruit-based products. Roquette America Inc., Keokuk, IA, developed Maltisorb, a crystalline maltitol and bulk sweetener for use alone or in combination with other ingredients. “Its crystalline form is anhydrous—1% maximum moisture content—with characteristics and properties that are very close to those of sucrose,” says Tom Parady, associate program coordinator, food and confectionary, Roquette America. “As a consequence, Maltisorb can easily replace it in food applications.”

In addition, Roquette has developed a process in which Maltitol 300FD is used as a dry fondant in combination with Maltisorb for sugar-free applications. “This results in simpler processes without cooking to make grained sweet products like fudges, creme centers and icings that have good stability and consistency in each batch,” says Parady.

SPI Polyols, Inc., New Castle, DE, also offers a line of crystalline polyols, maltitol syrups and poly-glycitols, both in liquid and solid form, to mimic characteristics found in full-sugar products. “The benefit to processors is a line of products which requires no changes in their processes to deliver a healthier, value-added product,” says Ron Deis, Ph.D., vice president of research and development, SPI Polyols. (For more information about polyols, see Health/Nutrition Plus, page 77, in this issue of Food Product Design.) Inulin, a prebiotic fiber, also works well in sweetener combinations.

“Many consumers are looking to replace sugar in an allnatural way, and our inulin is extracted from chicory root, so is an all-natural, soluble fiber,” says Hilary Hursh, food and nutrition scientist, Orafti Active Food Ingredients, Malvern, PA. It can round out the flavor profile of high-intensity sweeteners, so they taste more like sugar, and lessen bitter off-notes. In addition, inulin’s browning effect helps achieve a brown appearance and deliver some caramelized flavor in baked goods.

Inulin use encompasses all food categories, but dairy products increasingly use it to help boost calcium absorption. That makes it a natural fit in reduced-calorie yogurt or dairy beverages.

Inulin also is showing up in sugarfree chocolate products, because its ability to reduce cooling of polyols, browning characteristics and caramelized flavor yield more chocolate flavor.

Trimming the fat 

Approaches to weight management abound these days. Cognis Nutrition & Health, La Grange, IL, has developed Tonalin CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which has been shown to decrease body fat, maintain lean muscle mass and help avoid fat gain. Cognis has developed a process to convert the linoleic acid of safflower oil into CLA, a polyunsaturated, conjugated fatty acid found primarily in meat and dairy products.

Even green tea is getting in on the weight-management act. Enviga, a sparkling green tea manufactured by Beverage Partners Worldwide, a joint venture of Nestlé S.A., Vevey, Switzerland, and The Coca-Cola Company, Atlanta, claims to work with your body to increase calorie burning. “The accumulated body of scientific research shows that a combination of caffeine and green tea extract high in EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) invigorates metabolism to gently increase energy use,” says Hilary Green, Ph.D., researcher, Nestlé.

From protein to tea, new dietary ingredients are benefiting weight management. As the fight against obesity continues to challenge the world’s population, these ingredients will act as valuable allies in consumers’ efforts to effectively and safely reduce weight and promote lean body mass.

“It will take generations to turn the American obesity epidemic around,” says Fiona Taylor, director of marketing, InterHealth Nutraceuticals. “As long as obesity is a problem, the market for products that help in the fight will continue to grow.” 

Deborah Silver, a Chicago-area-based business journalist, specializes in the food and foodservice industries on topics including food products and ingredients, food safety, regulatory issues, and industry and consumer trends. Her articles have appeared in such publications as The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Advertising Age. Contact her at

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