Scientists in Scotland are to investigate whether an appetite-reducing protein supplement could be the answer to the country's growing obesity problem.
With an estimated 65% of Scots overweight, according to 2008 figures, the Rowett Institute of Nutrition & Health, which is based at the University of Aberdeen, has been awarded a multi-million euro research grant by the European Union to study why protein-rich foods such as meat and dairy tend to leave consumers more sated than other food groups.
Many researchers, but not all, believe that protein offers satiety benefits. The researchers at Rowett, will look at the mechanisms by which protein could have this effect, and which sources of protein could be most effective.
Professor Julian Mercer, head of obesity research at the Rowett, told Scottish newspaper The Herald: "We are looking to find out what signals protein triggers that are then read by the brain saying it is time to stop eating. That is the critical issue. There is definitely a biological effect. What we need to find out is what that is and how we incorporate that into diets to get the benefit."
But at the recent IFT show held in mid-July in Chicago, Purdue University researcher Richard Mattes, Ph.D., said of the protein-satiey question, "it's a very mixed story and we cannot predict behavior response to protein and load." Sorting out these discrepancies could be one of the outcomes of the Scottish researchers' inquiries.
During their work, the Rowett team are expected to look at how taking a protein-based dietary supplement before eating a meal —possibly in the form of a yogurt shot — affects consumption behavior.
The Rowett Institute is at the cutting edge of satiety research in the UK. It recently helped develop a range of high protein, appetite-busting chilled ready meals with UK retailer Marks & Spencer called 'Simply Fuller Longer'.