Scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow have developed a food additive that helps people eat less, get full easily and slow weight gain. According to the study, it could help overweight people prevent additional weight gain and, in an unanticipated finding, also lose heart-damaging abdominal fat.
The additive, inulin-propionate ester, IPE, is made from propionate, a natural byproduct of the stomach’s fermentation of dietary fibre. It is this chemical reaction that stimulates release of hormones that signal to the brain that the body is full.
“Molecules like propionate stimulate the release of gut hormones that control appetite, but you need to eat huge amounts of fibre to achieve a strong effect. We wanted to find a more efficient way to deliver propionate to the gut,” said the study’s leader, Gary Frost, PhD, a professor in the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, in a statement.
The researchers conducted two small experiments, aimed at demonstrating the abilities of propionate in humans. Previous studies were in mice and looking specifically at the effect of consuming the molecule in this unnatural quantity.
In the first, 20 participants were given powdered IPE or a complete dietary fibre, inulin. They were then instructed to eat as much as they wanted from the greatest enemy of portion control, a buffet. Those who ingested IPE ate an average of 14 per cent less than members of the inulin group. In a second, longer-term experiment, 25 overweight participants supplemented their food with IPE, while a control group of 24 overweight participants supplemented with inulin, both over 24 weeks.
Since the average adult gains about a pound each year, the success of this study was measured in weight not gained as well as changes to fat composition. At the end of the six-month period, researchers measured the body weight and compositions of the participants using an MRI scanner. They found that of 25 per cent of the control group, six people had gained 3 per cent of their body weights, while 17 per cent or four individuals had gained 5 per cent. By contrast, only one of the 25 in the IPE group gained more than 3 per cent of their body weight.
While the goal of the study was to prove that IPE prevented weight gain, the researchers found that the IPE group also lost a statistically significant amount of subcutaneous and visceral fat around the abdomen – belly fat and fatty deposits around organs like the liver. Both types of abdominal fat are implicated as risk factors for heart disease and even some cancers.Follow Us on Social Media