Could a secret ingredient in junk food help the fight against obesity?

Scientists have found a way to make snacks keep hunger at bay for longer.

They are working on a plant extract which could be added to fatty foods, such as ready meals and burgers, to suppress the appetite. It is hoped it will help dieters stick to smaller portions and combat obesity. The ingredient, found naturally in most plants, seeds and cereals, could be added to fast food to ward off hunger for up to 12 hours.

The compound works by coating fat before it is digested, stopping the enzymes that naturally break it down from working as fast as usual. This sends a signal to the brain that a person has had enough to eat, even though their stomach may only be half full.

Experts at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, who are yet to start tests in humans, hope to work with food manufactures in a couple of years to develop the supplement.

They are focusing on lipids found in chloroplasts the parts of plant cells used in photosynthesis. Oats, wheat and common seeds are also a good source of the substance. But researchers concede that manufacturers may be reluctant to add an ingredient that actually puts people off from buying more of their products.

Head of the project Dr Peter Wilde said: "Tests show that in the lab when we isolate the lipids, they can suppress appetite. In theory they could be added to any food with fat in it. We are still at a laboratory stage, but in two to three years we will be looking for volunteers."

There are already several food products on the market which claim to beat hunger and make you feel full. But many are based on the fibre found in whole grain. This would be the first time that foods that do not contain fibre could be artificially engineered to induce the same feeling of being full.

Source - Daily Mail

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