The second international conference on Slimming Ingredients will open its doors next week with the focus on quality, science and R&D, according to Dr. Marvin Edeas, chairman of the conference´s organising committee and president of the French Society of Antioxidants. 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. Despite the category being estimated to already be worth $7bn, serious challenges remain. Indeed, the category is not without its critics, some of whom are partly correct. For this reason, the conference is leading the question, "what are the ways to improve the scientific credibility of slimming ingredients in 2008?" Dr. Edeas told NutraIngredients.com: "Slimming Ingredients Germany 2008 has attracted a lot of quality this year. And the focus will be much more of the R&D, and really targeting the science." Interestingly, compared to last year's inaugural show, the show will be attended by big pharmaceutical companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer, said Dr. Edeas. Ripples across the pond The US weight management market is going through turbulent times following the filing of a petition with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by drug firm GSK. The petition requests that weight loss claims be treated as disease claims and maintains that there is no credible science to back up weight loss ingredients used in dietary supplements. The petition was filed by GSK, the American Dietetic Association, The Obesity Society, and Shaping America's Health, an association for weight management. It maintains that obesity and overweight are significant risk factors for certain diseases, and so products promoting weight loss should be treated as drugs. "The on-going GSK petition in the US is a very hot and important topic, which will have an influence on the European market," said Dr. Edeas. However, he added that the big companies active in this field, like DSM, Cognis, Lipid Nutrition, are testing their ingredients with clinical trials and so have nothing to fear from the petition in Europe. "In Europe, the market will remain blurred until 2010 when health claims come into force," said Dr. Edeas. The reliance on expensive clinical trials to support health claims with "clean-up the market and the smaller companies will disappear," he added. Programme high-points Industry will also be presenting science to the attendees with Beneo-Palatinit, Lipid Nutrition, Ninapharm, Tate and Lyle, Bionaturel, Cognis, Capsugel, and Procter & Gamble, to name but a few. Being slim obviously has cosmetic connotations and the potential role of slimming ingredients and beauty foods will also be addressed in a presentation by Dr. Sybille Buchwald-Werner from Cognis entitled, "How to find new ingredients for slimming and beauty". Analyze & Realize will be out in force at the conference with Dr. Jorg Gruenwald following on from his successful presentation at last year's conference, regaining the podium. This time he will give an overview of new and upcoming products, concepts and trends. He will also discuss how science and marketing are vital for success in the area. Analyze & Realize's Dr Christiane Alexander will expose the latest developments in the slimming ingredients regulatory field, and the potential consequences of the new EU food/supplement claim directive. Key to success in this climate is the science to back up the claims, particularly clinical trials, and this will be dealt with by Dr. Christine Bentley, also from the Berlin-based consultancy. Slimming Ingredients Germany 2008, 2nd International Conference on the latest innovations and trends in weight loss and weight management, will be held on 25-26 June 2008 in Berlin, Germany.