"Overweight was equally as prevalent."
There is only one reason a grammatically suspect sentence like this could appear as it has in most of the world's major newspapers and that is because overweight no longer needs the descriptor, 'being overweight.' As a term it is so familiar that 'overweight' is sufficient to be used in the same sense as 'obesity,' obesity being a more extreme version of overweight.
Together they have become the health issue the World Health Organization has earmarked as priority number one and that, paradoxically, in a world where hunger remains a problem for hundreds of millions of people. The globesity epidemic is not going away. Overweight and obesity affects 50 per cent of Europeans and 62 per cent of Americans.
While its growth has affected all segments of the population, David Jobse, product manager of DSM Food Specialties' successful weight-management ingredient, Fabuless, notes: "Overweight and obese people are?a growing segment?of the global population. Research has shown that women of all ages place greater importance on maintaining a healthy weight level than men. Consequently, overweight women between?their late 20's?and late 40's are the main purchasers of products containing Fabuless across all applications."
Quite simply, the world is too fat, and seemingly women are most worried about it. And it is not just the Western world. Increasingly, the developing world is tipping the scales, too, despite the swathes that cannot find enough to eat. While sedentary lifestyles are also contributing to globesity, diet is where the majority of attention is focused.
This has led to the world's biggest food manufacturers launching new products and reformulating their offerings to make them healthier, while government agencies launch campaigns to educate consumers about diet and lifestyle. It's one of the main reasons why natural, organic and functional foods are the fastest-growing sectors of the food industry, and why the weight-management market is valued at more than $7 billion globally.
From caffeine to green tea to cactus, fibre, fruit and other extracts — a host of ingredients are being sold on their ability to burn fat, raise metabolism and increase lean body mass. Products such as the Coke and Nestlé joint venture, the green tea-based energy drink Enviga, are even being marketed on their ability to burn calories, although its claims have drawn criticism for being unfounded and irresponsible.
Kellogg has branded Special K cereal as a weight-loss product; Unilever spent $40 million so that it has the sole right to market the South African fruit hoodia gordonii, believed to have satiety effects.
It's also why food-industry experts predict weight management will be the most significant trend in food in coming years, and why from an ingredient standpoint so many major suppliers are beefing up their portfolio of weight-management offerings.
Food industry analyst, consultant, author and editor of New Nutrition Business, Julian Mellentin, highlights weight management as the number one international nutrition trend in his report: '10 Key Trends for 2007.' "As consumers start to focus even more on lifestyle benefits rather than health benefits, the market for weight management looks set to become a strategic focus for food and beverage companies both large and small in 2007 and beyond."
A promising market
Unfortunate as the situation might be, globesity is providing ripe pickings for ingredients suppliers with innovative, clinically backed offerings, especially in the wake of the ephedra scare and subsequent banning in the US some years ago. Subsequently, other ingredients have stepped in to fill the breach and offer weight-management solutions that are not just about raising metabolism to (in theory) burn calories (and fat) faster.
These include a host of protein derivatives such as lactoferrin, whey, colostrum, casein and others that promote satiety, as well as plant extracts such as cactus and green tea that claim to regulate lean body mass, boost metabolism and more. Indeed Mellentin notes the importance of satiety in his 2007 report: "We believe the most effective route for companies' new product development efforts as regards weight management will be to create products that promote a sense of satiety. The science around satiety and its easy fit with the psychology of food suggests that such NPD efforts will reap the most rewards."
This is hardly surprising considering what consumers say in surveys. One poll showed that more than half of Americans surveyed kept eating, or wanted to, once they had achieved a sensation of being full. "One of the most interesting findings from this survey is the link between satiety, control of one's weight and the feeling of control over one's life," says the head researcher.
"If we can use satiety to help people understand how to gain control of their food intake and ultimately their weight, the repercussions are significant."
Dairy Management has numerous studies published on its website highlighting how its dairy fractions can assist in weight management via boosted feelings of satiety. It is not alone, as many protein-fraction suppliers are reporting a healthy trade from both the food and supplements sector for satiety ingredients.
More recent DSM-commissioned research indicates consumers favour appetite-suppression claims over calorie-burning solutions. It found claims that a product 'reduces your appetite' scored particularly well in the categories of appeal, relevance and credibility for women between 18 and 65 years old with a high level of interest in weight management in the UK, US and Brazil.
"We are delighted with the outcome," says Jobse. "Appetite reduction, resulting in reduced calorie intake is a proven benefit of Fabuless. This research demonstrates its popularity among consumers and clearly strengthens our offer to manufacturers. We have highlighted the demand and market potential, and are now better placed to help our customers ensure product success across the globe."
A growing ingredients list
At a recent slimming-ingredients conference in Berlin, Dr Jorg Gruenwald, from German consultancy Analyze &; Realize, noted five slimming-ingredients categories: boosting fat burning/thermogenesis, inhibiting protein breakdown, suppressing appetite/boosting satiety, blocking fat absorption and regulating mood.
He listed well-researched ingredients such as green tea polyphenols, CLA, hoodia gordonii, DHEA, hydroxy-methylbutyrate and chromium picolinate, and ingredients with only limited available data such as L-carnitine, chitosan, and calcium (with dairy) as those garnering the most attention.
The calorie-fat-burning area is becoming increasingly crowded with new ingredients, many clinically backed. The research is giving credibility to the current crop of products differentiating the earlier generation, which were more in the ephedra mould making spurious claims with potentially dangerous physiological effects. (See Viewpoint on page 12 for more on this issue.)
French-based ingredients supplier, Bio Serae, has been marketing a cactus-derived weight-loss ingredient called NeOpuntia it began developing in 1996, and that won the Nutracon award in 2004. Marketing manager Catherine Lecareux reports that the ingredient is now available in more than 150 foods, beverages and supplements, in many international markets, although most are in supplements. NeOpuntia is GMO and allergen free, organic certified in the EU, and Kosher.
DSM's Fabuless has secured a number of high-profile food partnerships, including the giant pan-European Dutch dairy, Campina, with a dairy product marketed under various formats in different European markets. Reportedly it is selling very well. Fabuless is also available in several supplements products.
Iowa-based Kemin recently launched Slendesta, which is based on a potato extract and which Kemin says is "a safe, natural satiety ingredient for weight-loss dietary supplements." Slendesta promotes the release of CCK, a natural signalling peptide in the body that targets various organs and induces feelings of fullness.
French-based Berkem's green-coffee extract, Svetol, is having a lot of success in soft drinks, dairy, biscuits and bakery.
Typical dosage is 400mg in supplements, and it is aimed at both men and women. It markets direct to consumers and engages in co-branding, according to spokesperson Karine Nardon. Svetol is an expensive ingredient but it is falling in price as volumes increase.
Interhealth's two plant-extract weight-management ingredients, CitriMax and Super CitriMax, contain hydroxycitric acid (HCA) and have been clinically proven to "suppress appetite and inhibit fat production, without stimulating the central nervous system."
Branding and education
Interhealth CEO Paul Dykstra says major companies such as Nestlé, Danone and Coca Cola have all released products containing the California-based company's weight-management ingredients. "The reason we are doing good business with these kinds of companies is because we realise that branding is key," he says. "There is education that needs to go on with these types of ingredients, and we realise that we need to be engaged in that, and we are. And because of the need for clinical backing we have gone to pharma levels in our R&;D."
He adds: "It's unfortunate that consumers are often misled by products that make outrageous claims that don't live up to their promises. But there are ingredients that do, indeed, provide a realistic way to help control one's weight." Markets are opening up in Asia and Latin America as obesity issues become prominent there, he says.
German giant Cognis's CLA ingredient Tonalin has been clinically proven to increase lean body mass. A recent study found that "supplementation with 6.4g per day CLA for 12 weeks increases lean body mass in healthy obese adults, but has no significant effect on body fat mass, weight, BMI, resting energy expenditure or respiratory quotient."
Cognis has also explored Tonalin's potential for fat oxidation and energy burning in sleep, and is soon to embark on marketing this potential after the publication of favourable research. "The challenge is how to take this pretty sophisticated study and translate it to the consumer," Cognis Nutrition and Health senior marketing manager Sharrann Simmons tells nutraingredients-usa. "We have multiple active projects to put CLA into functional foods. We've had interest from mainstream food manufacturers to put this into a healthy product."
Sabinsa has a suite of three weight-management ingredients that offers differing potentialities to food and supplements makers, but all of them promote the idea, like Cognis' Tonalin, of lean body mass. "The problem," says Sabinsa's vice president of scientific and medical affairs, Dr Vladimir Badmaev, "is getting consumers to understand the different terminology. We are focusing on the promotion of lean body mass over other forms of weight management. That is what our ingredients do. But it is hard enough getting our business customers to understand the concepts we are propagating, let alone getting that message to consumers. But slowly it is happening. The difference with ours and a lot of the other ingredients around at the moment is that they are clinically backed. The days of over-hyped offerings seem to be in the past as consumers become more educated and become more critical of the products they purchase."
DSM's Jobse has no such gripes: "DSM's?distribution partners have developed specific branding and marketing strategies for the Fabuless products they have launched into their respective markets. In all instances, the extensive level of advertising and promotional support, including TV campaigns in most markets, has successfully communicated the unique functional benefits of our customer's products due to Fabuless."