The ingredients – a modified version of the thickening agent methyl cellulose – could help to battle obesity by prolonging hunger and easing food cravings, suggest the German researchers.
Presenting their data at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the research team said the new ingredient – known as SATISFIT-LTG – is a white powder that dissolves in cold water to form a thick solution that turns into a gel-like material upon heating. The ingredient is designed for use in is designed to be used in foods such as yogurts, fruit shakes and smoothies, they said.
"This ingredient would make people feel full after eating smaller amounts of food," explained Dr Carsten Huettermann of Dow Wolff Cellulosics, Germany – the firm responsible for producing the ingredient. "With that sense of fullness and hunger-satisfaction, they would not crave more food.”
“In our first study, we saw that fewer calories were consumed at the following meal after eating our new product,” said Huettermann. “Our next step now is to investigate in further studies the mechanism of action and whether this may have an impact on weight management."
Methyl cellulose has been used to provide as a texturiser and emulsifier in food products for more than 50 years, and is found in baked goods, sweet and savory snacks and ready meals.
The initial proof-of-concept study from Dow Wolff Cellulosics is said to show ‘promising’ results after volunteers who consumed SATISFIT-LTG experienced a reduction in the sensation of hunger that lasted until the consumption of a following meal.
The team reported that at a following meal, in which the volunteers could eat as much as they wanted, a those who consumed the ‘anti-hunger’ ingredient consumed significantly less than those who had not.
Overall, they said the consumption of the modified methyl cellulose resulted in a 13% decrease in calorie intake.
Huettermann explained that conventional versions of methyl cellulose pass through the stomach rapidly and do not work as a satiety ingredient. SATISFIT-LTG, however, forms a gel at body temperature, which means the ingredient is slowed down and lingers in the stomach before passing into the small intestine.
Earlier this week the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) revealed it has given preliminary approval to the ingredient as a novel ‘anti-hunger’ ingredient.
Whilst not a full approval, the FSA’s Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) statement that it found no safety concerns relating to the use of methyl cellulose as an additive in foods is good news for the proposed anti-hunger ingredient (full story here).
However, the FSA Committee did raise concerns about children’s intake of the ingredient.