With the news that the number of patients admitted to hospitals in England with obesity issues has tripled in the last five years, clean label ingredients specialist Ulrick & Short predicts that supplements causing diners to feel fuller for longer will be key to getting the UK’s obesity crisis under control.
Whilst sales of dietary supplements in general are slowing, the total value of the market is worth over £450million. There is a growing choice of over the counter diet aids in pill form, some of which work by preventing or slowing the absorption of fat, and others by stimulating hormones in the gut that tell the brain that the person is full.
At the same time, the food industry has been developing innovative solutions that maximize natural ingredients such as clean label functional fibers to achieve that ‘fuller for longer’ feeling. Ulrick & Short, for example, has developed a selection of naturally gluten-free, non-GM proteins and fibers based on a range of crops, maximizing advanced R&D techniques to deliver new functionalities for both food manufacturers and consumers.
Ulrick & Short director, Adrian Short, explained: “According to a report from the Food Standards Agency, portion sizes across nearly every prepared food sector have increased in the last two decades—even doubling in size in the case of some ready meals. It’s no wonder that obesity is on the increase when we are eating what in effect is a double portion compared to the previous generation—and on the whole exercising less.
“Cutting down portion size is not as easy as it sounds since consumers have effectively been conditioned to expect a certain amount of food. Parents’ cries of ‘waste not, want not’ encouraged children of the seventies and eighties to clear their plates, and diners have simply forgotten how to spot the signs of being full—and stop eating regardless of what’s left in front of them.”
Granted, consumers are now offered a broader choice of sizes in many product ranges—but a larger pack is still likely to provide perceived better value and will be selected over a smaller equivalent. Worse still, ‘family’ packs of crisps or chocolate intended for sharing are often bought and consumed by one person.
Adrian Short believes an in-depth understanding of the science behind ingredients is key to helping food manufacturers address the obesity crisis by bringing new, innovative products to market that are not viewed as a compromise. He added: “For consumers struggling with their weight there is a plethora of diets and diet aids, and advice galore on how to lose weight sensibly without resorting to drastic action such as surgery. There are also millions of people in the UK who already eat healthily but would like to maintain better portion control.
“Deprivation works only for a very small minority of dieters. For a more sustainable solution, a quick search on the internet will reveal many helpful tips on ‘fooling’ our brains and bellies into better eating habits, and how to recognize when we’re full. The food industry must play its part too—consumers will buy products designed to increase satiety if they are appetizing and not perceived as less indulgent. That’s where natural additions such as proteins and fibers come in, not only enhancing the nutritional profile of a dish but improving flavor and texture and increasing the sense of fullness.”