The research, presented recently at the Cereals&Europe meeting in Montpellier, France, could tap into the burgeoning weight loss and management market, estimated to already be worth $7bn (€5.2bn) globally. With 50 per cent of Europeans and 62 per cent of Americans classed as overweight, the food industry is waking up to the potential of products for weight loss and management. The slimming ingredients market can be divided into five groups based on the mechanisms of action - boosting fat burning/ thermogenesis, inhibiting protein breakdown, suppressing appetite/ boosting satiety (feeling of fullness), blocking fat absorption, and regulating mood (linked to food consumption). Martijn Noort from TNO Quality of Life told attendees in Montpellier that Lactobacillus reuteri 121 (TNO strain) is able to produce glucans and fructans during fermentation, and that one of these glucans may induce satiation and favourably effect insulin and blood glucose levels in humans. The glucan, alpha-1,4/1,6 glucan with a molecular weight of 40 MDa and a degree of branching of about 16 per cent, has been named Reuteran by the Dutch researchers. If used together the Lactobacillus and Reuteran would constitute a symbiotic ingredient, or the extracted and purified exopolysaccharides could be used as a prebiotic and/or functional ingredient, said Noort. Noort told NutraIngredients.com that the use of the ingredient dictated whether or not it would need to be classified as a novel food: "It is possible to apply exopolysaccharides (EPS) in various ways. When the EPS is produced as an ingredient it will be a novel food. However, as Lactobacilli have a history of safe use the culture can be applied in fermented foods. In this way the EPS will be produced 'in situ' without compliance to novel food regulation." When tested in a human trial wit 20 volunteers and incorporated in milk consumed with breakfast, Reuteran was found to positively effect insulin and glucose levels, increase the feeling of fullness, and decrease the feeling of hunger up to two hours after consumption, compared to placebo. The ingredient may also be used in bakery products, said Noort. Indeed, the TNO researchers have already investigated this. Adding Reuteran in a white bread recipe was reported to result in a higher bread volume compared to a reference without any bread improvers. This increase was not noticed using other polysaccharides like dextran or polydextrose, he added. Storage for seven days at 20 degrees Celsius did not result in any major differences in crumb softness as bread made with Novamyl, amylase and glycerol mono stearate. "The results show that this healthy ingredient has beneficial functional properties for applying it in bakery products," wrote Noort. The obvious potential of the ingredient, either as a novel or symbiotic ingredient, has clearly commercial potential, and this is being explored at the moment. "At the moment we are involved in discussions with industrial partners for further development / commercialization," admitted Noort, without revealing any further information.