BENEO-Orafti Furthers its Commitment to Reducing World Obesity with its European Scientific Symposium on Weight Management

Already recognized worldwide for its prebiotic fiber ingredients that help promote nutrition and health, BENEO-Orafti has advanced its commitment to promoting nutritional research into prebiotics by hosting some of the world’s leading weight management experts and scientists at its highly successful European Scientific Symposium.

Chaired by respected weight management experts Professor Arne Astrup (Copenhagen, Denmark) and Professor John Blundell (Leeds, United Kingdom), the Symposium looked at the impact of functional carbohydrates such as BENEO-Orafti’s inulin and oligofructose on energy metabolism. The key themes covered included obesity and body weight management, low glycemic carbohydrates, control of appetite and food intake, and the effect that supplementing oligofructose in the diet can have on weight management and health.

Obesity and weight management
The scene was set by Professor Arne Astrup, from the Copenhagen University’s Department of Human Nutrition, who described the size of the worldwide obesity epidemic and its health consequences. Professor Astrup commented that the International Obesity Task Force has estimated that 704 million people will be obese by 2015 and in countries such as the US and UK.. Professor Astrup also highlighted how certain countries (UK, Finland, Greece and parts of Eastern Europe) have seen a rapid increase in the proportion of the population affected by obesity, while the rise in others has been slower.

While it was stressed that there is no panacea for obesity, successful clinical interventions were discussed that included trials of weight-control strategies including: restricting the energy content of the diet, reduction of the energy density of the diet (such as by cutting the fat content), and combining diet and physical activity. Work from Professor Astrup’s own department suggested that high protein foods and meals with a low glycemic index (GI) were useful for weight management because they helped induce satiety (the feeling of fullness).

Carbohydrates, appetite regulation and the metabolic response
The topics of appetite, satiation and satiety were introduced by Professor John Blundell from the Institute of Psychological Sciences at Leeds University in the UK,. As far back as 1981, prominent British researcher Professor Ken Heaton called for an ‘energy-satiety ratio of all common foods’ to help people manage an energy balance. Now this could become a reality thanks to research on appetite and satiety. The concept of appetite control using the glycemic index was discussed by Professor Jeya Henry (School of Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom) and a number of components that influence it were suggested which could be applied during food processing to produce low GI products.

Professor Henry concluded by stating that the concept of GI is a real, observable phenomenon. As low GI foods also stimulate satiety, these are likely to be useful for weight management as well as for safeguarding metabolic health. He concluded his discussion by stating that in his view “the inclusion of novel and new food ingredients in foods to reduce their GI will emerge as a growing market.”

The effects of oligofructose on weight management and health
Part of the symposium also focused on low- or non-digestible carbohydrates and in particular, the role of prebiotics in weight management and health. It was hypothesised that increasing dietary fiber and improving digestive-tract health with prebiotics could have an important positive effect on correcting the high fat intake, low dietary fiber intake and low physical activity levels that characterize an obesogenic lifestyle.

Early work on animal models has revealed promising findings. A study in mice compared different high fat diets, some with fiber or oligofructose added. Interestingly, the high fat diet alone suppressed levels of bifidobacteria and bacteroides in the animal gut. When oligofructose was added to this diet, bacterial levels returned to normal. A similar effect was not seen with cellulose, suggesting that the fermentation associated with prebiotics was more productive than just fiber alone. The study suggests that oligofructose ameliorates the negative effect of the high fat diet on the balance of intestinal bacteria.

Further studies
Professor Nathalie Delzenne (Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels) expanded on the theme of food intake regulation and energy balance using examples from animal and human research.

A recent animal study highlighted that through the supplementation of oligofructose, levels of the appetite suppressing hormones GLP-1 and PYY were increased while levels of the appetite enhancer ghrelin were reduced. These metabolic effects translate into reductions in energy intake. Rats fed high-fat diets clearly demonstrated suppression of overeating when oligofructose was added to the diet. This resulted in a slower weight gain. (See Appendix 1)

A similar effect has been seen in humans. Reported satiety at breakfast and at dinner was significantly higher during a study when subjects received oligofructose compared to the control diet. Energy intake was reduced by around 5%. Further research is needed to examine the longer term impact of oligofructose supplementation, especially in obese subjects or those with diabetes or dyslipidemia who may receive a particular benefit.

Professor Rob Welch (from the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, United Kingdom) went on to describe four human studies that examined the satiating properties of non-digestible carbohydrates, of which oligofructose is a key example. Studies showed that through the supplementation of oligofructose, the satiety hormone GLP-1 was stimulated to help reduce energy intake. (See Appendix 2)

In conclusion
Tim Van der Schraelen from BENEO-Orafti comments: “It’s clear that the forum provided by this year’s BENEO-Orafti Scientific Symposium in Brussels provided a valuable platform for international weight management experts and scientists to present and discuss the latest insights and data available on the very topical and challenging issue of obesity and weight management.”

“A good research base has now been established to quantify the impact of functional carbohydrates, in particular oligofructose-enriched inulin (Orafti®Synergy1) on satiety, appetite control and metabolic function. We are committed to carrying on further research in this area and will continue to offer symposia in the future to allow the scientific community to discuss and demonstrate the various uses linking these functional carbohydrates to healthy weight-managing diets.”

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The world leader in the production and sales of food ingredients derived from chicory, BENEO-Orafti is part of the BENEO-Group, a division of the Südzucker Group, specializing in functional ingredients. The company's Orafti® inulin and oligofructose products and especially the unique ingredient Orafti®Synergy1 have been scientifically proven to improve the balance of the body’s intestinal flora by stimulating its own beneficial bifidobacteria, also helping the body to absorb more essential nutrients, such as calcium, from the diet.

Orafti® ingredients can be the basis for well-balanced food products that improve digestive health and enhance the feeling of well-being. With its head office in Tienen, Belgium, BENEO-Orafti operates in more than 75 countries and has production units in Oreye (Belgium), and Pemuco (Chile).

Appendix 1
Professor Nathalie Delzenne expanded on the theme of food intake regulation and energy balance with examples from animal and human research. Fermentation, and thus prebiotics, are intricately involved with lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism due to the widespread effects of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) which are released during the fermentation process.

A new twist to this hypothesis is how SCFA also appear to stimulate the activity of the satiety peptide, GLP-1, which is released in the gut. Three prebiotic-supplemented diets were fed to Wistar rats for three weeks. Compared with the control diet, the oligofructose diet significantly increased the levels of GLP-1 and PYY (another appetite-suppressing hormone), while levels of an appetite enhancer ghrelin were reduced. In the colon, levels of butyrate, a SCFA, were seen to rise. The mechanism for the rise in GLP-1 can be explained by histological research showing that oligofructose supplementation in rats promotes the multiplication of gut endocrine cells capable of producing GLP-1. These metabolic effects translate into reductions in energy intake. Rats fed high fat diets clearly demonstrated suppression of hyperphagia when oligofructose was added to the diet. This resulted in a slower weight gain.

Appendix 2
Professor Rob Welch (from the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, United Kingdom) described four human studies that had examined the satiating properties of non-digestible carbohydrates, of which oligofructose is a key example. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial , nine patients were given a low fiber diet plus oligofructose or placebo (20 g/d). After a week and a further test meal, plasma GLP-1 levels were found to be higher in the oligofructose group suggesting a stimulation of this satiety hormone.

The effects of oligofructose (10g/d) and pea fibre were examined in another double-blind, cross-over trial. Eleven healthy adults consumed a placebo or the oligofructose/pea fiber mixture for two weeks. The mixture appeared to be successful at inducing satiety. Also, energy intakes were around 3% lower and subjects lost more weight on the oligofructose/pea fiber mixture, although the results failed to reach statistical significance.

Piche T et al. (2003). Gastroenterology, 124, 894-902.
Whelan K et al. (2006). British Journal of Nutrition, 96, 350-356.

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