Predictions by the World Health Organization say that by 2015, over 2.3 billion of the adult population will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese. The problem is no longer confined to high-income countries as low- and middle-income countries are now also at risk.
In contrast to this overall trend, there is a growing proportion of the population who are becoming more health conscious and concerned about their weight, and so are demanding alternative food products that will help them lead a healthier lifestyle. Below, Yves Servotte of the BENEO-Group reviews the latest trends and observations and highlights the innovative opportunities the Group’s ingredients can offer food manufacturers.
Chewing the fat
Consumers are acutely aware of the potential risks to their health and well-being yet obesity levels continue to rise. There are several contributing lifestyle factors including: increases in snacking/grazing, the rise of convenience foods, and reduced exercise levels; but this is an extremely complex issue.
Ingredients manufacturers such as the BENEO-Group can help provide effective solutions to this global problem. These include fat and sugar replacement in processed and prepared foods and beverages, along with fiber enrichment and improved appetite fulfilment, all of which can be applied to a range of applications and products including: confectionery, dairy, beverage, cereals and bakery goods.
Turning issues into opportunities
Historically, rigid eating regimes are short-lived dietary fixes, either too rigorous or too unpleasant to be sustainable for long periods of time. Consumers typically describe themselves as being too busy to focus on their food choices and cite a low-calorie diet’s failure to satisfy their sensations of enjoyment and fulfilment. These suggest just some of the root causes that lead to excess eating, a higher than recommended calorie intake, and subsequently to a gain in weight.
Fortunately, there is also a growing segment of the population that is motivated by long-term health and this offers important potential for manufacturers and retailers.
According to a trends report by the Natural Marketing Institute, 25% of the adult US population is “driven to health by all means,” while 16% is “dedicated to health through smart nutrition and weight management.” These are equally important segments that cannot be ignored, especially because it is these consumers that are willing to pay a price premium for food products if justified by a health benefit that can be felt.
Product developers now have at their disposal a set of tried and proven ingredients capable of controlling hunger, while reducing calories, fat and sugar and delivering low Glycemic-Index products that do not compromise on taste, texture or quality. Innovative ingredients such as BENEO-Orafti’s oligofructose and inulin, BENEO-Palatinit’s ISOMALT and Palatinose™, and BENEO-Remy’s rice starches, can positively influence weight management and help people to incorporate healthy food into their daily diets more easily without the need to compromise on taste or texture or drastically change their habits.
Low calorie solutions – diet products
Reducing calorie intake remains one of the most popular weight reduction programs consumers consider when dieting or embarking upon a structured healthy eating regime. For this to be a sustainable solution however, consumers need a choice of products that offer them a varied and satisfying diet. Through the BENEO-Group’s portfolio of products, this is now entirely possible within most key food groups including bakery, confectionery, non-alcoholic beverages and dairy, offering products such as soups, sauces, candy and chocolate.
Minimizing snacking through glycemia
Weight control can also be made easier through the control of the body’s insulin levels. This can be achieved by consuming low glycemic carbohydrates that are digested slowly and only have a mild effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. By achieving lower blood glucose levels and a lower insulin level, major parameters in influencing energy intake and metabolism are effected, hunger pangs and the desire to snack could be decreased and weight is then much more controllable. Products containing BENEO-Palatinit’s ISOMALT and Palatinose™ can help a great deal in achieving a lower blood glucose and insulin day profile.
A tasteful way of reducing fat and sugar With consumers becoming more aware of the negative effects of modified fats, the demand for products reduced in sugar and/or fat as a way to lose weight have become even more popular. Orafti® inulin can completely replace fat in an entire range of food products as its neutral taste and color mean that it does not adversely affect the sensory quality or texture of low-fat food. This solution enables food manufacturers to produce ‘lite’ versions of traditionally more indulgent food products that consumers prefer not to sacrifice when entering a healthier eating regime, such as ice cream and other dairy and meat products.
ISOMALT from BENEO-Palatinit is a sugar replacer derived from pure beet sugar, yet with only half the calories of traditional sugar. Replacing sugar in volume by a 1:1 ratio, when ISOMALT is used in sweet food products, consumers can be sure that they are digesting fewer calories and doing something positive to manage their weight. The creation of low-fat products with an appealing creamy texture is also possible through BENEO-Remy ingredients. Due to its very small starch granules, which mimic the feeling of fat globules in the mouth, rice starch is proving a popular solution in food applications such as bakery, dairy desserts, soups, sauces and fat-based fillings.
Enhanced fat burning
BENEO-Palatinit’s Palatinose™ has a unique ability to promote fat oxidation in the body when consumed in combination with a healthy diet and exercise program. Studies have shown that this low-glycemic carbohydrate not only provides a sustained supply of energy in the form of glucose, but at the same time promotes a higher rate of fat burning -- even at average activity levels.* In practice, this might mean that the breakdown of fat by the body, in addition to becoming possible at all, might thus be faster, which could help to address one of the overriding factors of diets failing: impatience.
Various studies have already established that Palatinose™ increases the proportion of energy derived from fat in overall energy consumption, applying to both athletes and those leading less physically active lives. Palatinose™ acts by making a higher fat burning rate possible, or in other words, by increasing the proportion of overall energy production that comes from fat. A better fat burning rate means that athletes can draw on their carbohydrate reserves for longer and burn fat more effectively.
Lower energy intake
A healthy body weight is achieved through a balance of energy in versus energy out. When this balance is uneven it can result in obesity or severe malnourishment. With this in mind and to help rectify the obesity epidemic, the food industry is actively looking towards ways of helping consumers reduce their energy intake and maintain their optimal body weight within the framework of healthy weight-managing diets. Counting calories and looking for reduced-calorie alternatives is one aspect to consider. Being less hungry and thus eating less may be another aspect. Studies with Orafti®Synergy1 and Orafti®P95 have shown these ingredients to help healthy adults and adolescents lower their daily energy intake over time.
BENEO-Group – connecting nutrition and health The BENEO-Group of companies has become renowned worldwide for its regulatory experience and excellence, and for its ability to provide customers with cutting-edge advice in terms of regulatory affairs, technical issues, qualitative and quantitative market analyses, in product development, analysis and optimization, and in marketing support, all according to the highest quality standards (ISO 9001 accreditation).
Through the unique and synergistic combination of all the natural, functional ingredients within the BENEO-Group portfolio, food manufacturers have at their disposal a range of solutions that are not only more nutritionally balanced but also offer functional benefits that are proven to help burn fat and suppress appetite. With such a wealth of solutions available to global food manufacturers, supported by decades of sound scientific research, there is now no excuse for the obesity epidemic to be ignored, and a world of opportunities for it to be addressed.
* Berg/König, Freiburg University Clinic, Center for Internal Medicine’s Department of Rehabilitation, Prevention and Sports Medicine, Germany, 2007.
Arai et al. Institute of Health Biosciences, University of Tokushima Graduate School (Tokushima) and Food Science Institute of Meiji Dairies Corporation (Janagawa), Japan, 2006.
The BENEO-Group consists of BENEO-Orafti, BENEO-Palatinit and BENEO-Remy, all successful global companies specializing in food ingredients with nutritional and technical benefits.
The BENEO-Group has a turnover of €350 million, employs some 900 people and has production units in Belgium, Germany, Chile and Italy. Throughout the business units there is a unique chain of expertise that can actively support manufacturing partners in the development of more balanced and healthy food products.