Making gains in studying weight loss

by Jeff Gelski
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Inulin-based ingredients from different sources show promise

Even as data have been published this year revealing the number of obese people is increasing in the United States and worldwide another study has been published showing the potential weight loss effects of dietary fructans, including inulin.

The International Obesity Task Force estimates 704 million people will be obese by 2015, said Dr. Arne Astrup, a professor at Copenhagen University’s Department of Human Nutrition, during a European Scientific Symposium held by Beneo-Orafti, Tienen, Beglium, earlier this year.

In the U.S., adult obesity rates rose in 37 states in 2007, up from 31 states during the previous year, according to "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America, 2007," a report produced by Trust for America’s Health.

Inulin’s potential positive effect on weight management, meanwhile, was the focus of a study called "Physiological effects of dietary fructans extracted from Agave tequilana Gto. and Dasylirion spp." in the February issue of the British Journal of Nutrition. Fructans are non-digestible and fermentable carbohydrates. Inulins are a member of the fructan family.

The inulin study involved researchers from Unidad Irapuato in Mexico and Universite Catholique de Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, examining mice with diets that included Beneo-Orafti’s Raftilose P95 (a short-chain fructan derived from chicory root), fructans from Agave tequilana, and fructans from Dasylirion spp.

Fructan supplementation decreased daily food and/or energy intake and body weight gain in general. The mice with diets that included Raftilose 95 ate 11% less food than mice with a standard diet. The mice with diets that included Agave tequilana ate 10% less food than mice with a standard diet.

Other health differences were observed. Serum glucose concentrations were 19% lower in mice with Raftilose 95 in their diet than in the standard diet. Serum glucose concentrations were 15% lower in mice with Agave tequilana in their diet and 14% lower in mice with Dasylirion spp. in their diet. Reduction of cholesterol concentrations reached about 20% in mice with any of the three types of fructans in their diets.

"Interestingly, among tested fructans, the one from A. tequilana was the most potent to decrease fat mass, body and liver weight," the researchers said. "We propose that this novel source of fructans could be interesting in studies devoted to relating specific modulation of the microbial flora and the risk of diseases associated with obesity."

The researchers added other studies may involve other types of fructans from different botanical and geographical origins.

Sensus, based in Rosendaal, The Netherlands, has launched a clinical study to determine the effects Frutafit and Frutalose lines of chicory root fiber have on satiety and weight management, said Scott Turowski, technical sales representative for Sensus America Inc., Monmouth Junction, N.J. Results of the one-year intervention are expected later next year.

"Initial studies have shown that chicory root fiber may positively affect satiety-related hormones, leading to a decrease in daily caloric intake," Mr. Turowski said.

Inulin-based ingredients offer several benefits, said Joseph O’Neil, executive vice-president of sales and marketing for Beneo-Orafti and based in Morris Plains, N.J. Studies have examined inulin’s effects on immunity and digestive health and its ability to reduce sugar and fat in products, he said. Other benefits are working as a binder in nutrition bars and enhancing fruit flavors.

Beneo-Orafti will implement a 25% increase on its range of Orafti products on Nov. 1 because of increases in energy, raw material and processing costs. Mr. O’Neil said supply of chicory root is not a problem. While Beneo-Orafti historically has contracted with chicory root growers in Belgium and in Holland, the company last year invested in a second manufacturing plant in Chile.

Sensus contracts Dutch and Belgium farmers for the production and supply of chicory roots to produce Frutafit and Frutalose inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Sensus has implemented a plant expansion to continue to meet the increasing demand of its current customer base, Mr. Turowski said.

GTC Nutrition, Golden, Colo., sources from the Blue Weber agave plant in Mexico for its recently launched BioAgave agave active fiber, which is 90% inulin. The ingredient launch was a collaborative effort between GTC Nutrition and Mexico-based CPIngredientes, both affiliates of Corn Products International, Inc., Westchester, Ill.

"There is currently an abundant supply of Blue Weber agave plant to meet capacity for the foreseeable future," said Dr. Coni Francis, Ph.D., senior manager of scientific and government affairs for GTC Nutrition.

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