Obesity is one of today’s most blatantly visible health problems; data from the World Health Organization (WHO) found 40 percent of women and 39 percent of men aged 18 and over were overweight – that’s nearly 2 billion adults worldwide. An additional 13 percent were obese.
Consumers are turning to natural ingredients to help manage their weight. Natural products can have a lot to offer, including benefits to satiety, appetite control and thermogenesis, among others, but safety and efficacy are of the utmost importance to today’s health-centric consumers; they want research to support product claims, especially in a category known for outlandish claims and unsafe products. Although only one ingredient – glucomannan (konjac mannan) has a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) authorised health claim, hundreds of studies have been conducted, so many ingredients have research-backed weight management benefits.
Now is certainly the time for companies to develop efficacious weight management products, as obesity is a continued threat to public health. Overweight and obese people face increased risk of metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease, among other risks. Asian people commonly suffer from diabetes due to a genetic predisposition, and although Asian countries have some of the lowest prevalence of overweight and obesity worldwide, they are experiencing alarming rates of increase, with the boom in economic development and cultural changes often blamed as drivers.
Nutraceuticals and functional foods are complementary to a healthy diet and physical exercise, and have great potential in the war on diabetes. Recently, studies have shown some phytochemicals work well to regulate blood glucose, and the beneficial roles of vitamin D, trivalent chromium and other compounds have been examined for their roles in managing hyperglycaemia.
Research indicates successfully losing weight is more about who a person is than what they eat, presenting opportunities for personalised nutrition to enter the fray. The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows weight loss and gain is significantly depending on fasting plasma glucose and fasting insulin levels. Specifically, prediabetic participants were very susceptible to weight gain when on the high-carb diet, but saw substantial weight loss when on a low-carb diet, even when calories weren’t restricted. Those with normal glycaemic levels lost more on a high-carb and low-fat diet. This opens the weight management category to an influx of personalised nutrition solutions—services that test blood glucose levels before prescribing a diet or weight loss products could be the next big thing for successful weight management.
To learn more about weight management, download the digital magazine, Tipping the Scales.