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University leads £6 million EU project to tackle obesity

The University of Liverpool is leading a EUR 8million European project to develop and test new food products with satiating qualities to help control appetite, manage weight and combat obesity.

Satiety-enhanced foods can help with energy intake and weight control. SATIN - SATiety INnovation is a five year, EU funded project that draws together experts from academia and industry to produce new food products using the latest processing innovation techniques. Exploiting better understanding of the biological processes in the stomach and the brain that underpin what makes us feel "full", the project will evaluate whether this approach is a viable weight management tool.

Obesity is a major public health issue facing the European Union and reducing it is a priority for all European governments. It is estimated that 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children in the UK will be obese by 2050. Obesity has a severe impact on people's health, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and heart and liver disease. The direct costs to the NHS (National Health Service) caused by obesity are estimated to be 4.2 billion per year in the UK. In several European countries, the cost of obesity has already reached 5% of public health expenditure.

Professor Jason Halford, Director of the University's Human Ingestive Behaviour laboratory, said: "People who are obese find successful weight loss and maintenance notoriously difficult. Obesity is typically a consequence of overconsumption driven by an individual's natural sensitivity to food stimuli and the pleasure derived from eating high fat and high sugar foods.

"Obese and overweight people are less likely to feel full after eating, partly because of the energy-dense foods they prefer have a reduced impact on gastrointestinal hormone signals that help promote feelings of satisfaction and fullness."

"SATIN aims to draw upon our improved understanding of appetite expression - how the foods we eat affect eating behaviour and appetite. If we can produce foods that fill people up quicker and for longer and taste good then we can help moderate appetite whilst maintaining a healthy balanced diet."

SATIN will use advanced food processing technologies (such as advanced forms of fermentation, vacuum technology, enzyme application, emulsification, ultra-filtration, drying, sublimation and freezing, heat treatment, protein modification and encapsulation) to modify the structure of the foods which accelerate satiation, enhance satiety and to reduce appetite

To date, satiety-enhancing food products on the market have not been effective or appealing in terms of taste. Taste and hedonistic experience of food supercede the health benefits of a food product which is why overweight consumers tend to reject low‐energy, high‐fibre diets although they promote weight loss. However, changes to the structure and viscosity of food structures have also been found to affect taste and reduce the pleasure of consumption.

There are a number of key strands to the SATIN project which will contribute to the development and production of new satiety food products. The project will develop new in-vitro biomarker profile models which will screen food structures and identify new products which can be developed due to their satiating properties. The structure of the new products will be studied in an artificial gastrointestinal model which will lead to a better understanding of how the products behave in the gut and the effect of metabolic processes on the products.

The new products which are developed will be tested in human trials for their satiety properties, their safety and their sensory effectiveness. They will also be tested to see if they can control appetite and induce longer term weight loss using a robust methodological platform which detects the effects of foods and beverages on the physiological system (gastrointestinal peptides, microbiota, fermentation) and against psychological processes and sensations. This platform will be expanded to provide innovative and comprehensive procedures which can provide future guidance for the industry.

SATIN SATiety INnovation - represents a consortium of 18 academic and industrial partners from 9 European countries including leading research institutes, large companies and small and medium sized companies in the food and retail industry who specialise in novel food formulation and production. Partners include AXXAM, Coca-Cola, a number of universities from UK, Denmark, Sweden and Spain.

Contact: Sarah Stamper
University of Liverpool

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