Can We Cure America’s Obesity Epidemic with Food Additives and ELNs?

ELN, Food and Beverage

food additives
America is facing an obesity epidemic; however, the use of satiety-inducing food additives might be an important intervention.
Image Source: Flickr user Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

In 1825, the French lawyer (and arguably one of the most influential food writers of all time) Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin published his book Physiologie du Goût, in which he wrote, “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” [Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are].1 One could say his adage remains very true today. With the variety of eating styles (e.g. veganism, vegetarianism, raw foodist, etc.) that has emerged, the furor over the types of foods that enter our body can reach an unholy crescendo.

But with the current obesity epidemic in America,2 the concept of being what you eat is not a simple aphorism. Instead, the quality and quantity of what Americans eat is a public health concern, especially as more and more studies suggest that “when it comes to reaching a healthy weight, what you don’t eat is much, much more important” than any exercise regime.3

How Companies Can Transform the Quantity of What You Eat

To reach a healthy body weight, overweight and obese Americans must eat less, and satiety is of particular interest to companies wanting to create effective weight-control products.4 There are psychological and physiological components of satiety—the feeling of fullness. Food and beverage companies (as well as specialty chemical companies) can make use of specific food additives to enhance physiological satiety, a process that triggers the release of hormones alerting the brain to the stomach’s fullness.

You might be thinking, don’t companies want people to eat more? Perhaps some do, but even large, multinational companies such as Coca-Cola are feeling the heat from those who blame them for America’s obesity epidemic.5 Similarly, companies like McDonald’s have suffered from the perception that their food makes people “fat.” Thus, using food additives to increase satiety and reduce the amount of food people consume can change consumers’ perceptions about certain companies, which might actually help to boost sales.

Digital Notebooks and Food Additives: Can the Combination Lead to An Innovation in Diet Food?

There is a variety of food additives companies can use to increase satiety. These include fiber and other bulking agents such as methylcellulose as well as certain types of sugars like fructose. However, before using food additives throughout a line of products, food and beverage companies must use technological innovations to keep note of how food additives affect the shape, taste, color, and texture of food products. Digital notebooks are especially useful for this task.

A food researcher could use a digital notebook to try a variety of food additives on a product, uploading images of how characteristics of the food change. These images can then be shared with members of the R&D team, and decisions can more quickly (and easily) be made about which food additives to continue working with and which ones to abandon. Similarly, if certain food additives are added to a recipe, the recipe for a product might need to change to maintain flavor. Using a digital notebook, all of this information about the before-and-after profile of a food product can be uploaded onto a common platform so that food additives tested one day could lead to novel recipes the next day.

Here at BIOVIA, our digital notebooks have assisted scientists in organizing and prioritizing their research efforts and can be similarly used to create more fulfilling diet food options. To determine how BIOVIA and ELNs can help your company, please contact us today.

  1. “You are what you eat,” http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/you-are-what-you-eat.html
  2. “Why Are Americans Obese,” NA, http://www.publichealth.org/public-awareness/obesity/
  3. “To Lose Weight, Eating Less Is Far More Important Than Exercising More,” June 15, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/16/upshot/to-lose-weight-eating-less-is-far-more-important-than-exercising-more.html?abt=0002&abg=0
  4. “Promoting Satiety,” November 2009, http://nfscfaculty.tamu.edu/talcott/courses/FSTC605/Food%20Product%20Design/Satiety.pdf
  5. “Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets,” August 9, 2015, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/coca-cola-funds-scientists-who-shift-blame-for-obesity-away-from-bad-diets/

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