Researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow recently tested a new food ingredient that may help increase feelings of fullness after eating and prevent weight gain, according to research published in the journal Gut. The ingredient, called inulin-propionate ester (IPE), contains propionate, which signals the release of hormones that reduce hunger. Propionate occurs naturally in the digestion of dietary fiber, but this new ingredient has much higher quantities than are available through diet alone. It shows promise in preventing weight gain in volunteers who are already overweight.
"We know that adults gain between 0.3 and 0.8 kilos a year on average, and there's a real need for new strategies that can prevent this," Dr. Gary Frost, a researcher who led the study at Imperial College London, said in a release. "This small, proof-of-principle study shows encouraging signs that supplementing one's diet with the ingredient we've developed prevents weight gain in overweight people. You need to eat it regularly to have an effect. We're exploring what kinds of foods it could be added to, but something like bread or fruit smoothies might work well."
How the study worked
In the study, volunteers received the ingredient as a powder that they added to their food over 24 weeks. Only one volunteer who used IPE gained more than 3 percent of his or her body weight, and none gained more than 5 percent. In contrast, a group of volunteers was given only inulin, and of that group six people gained more than 3 percent of their body weight, and four gained more than 5 percent. In the study's initial phase, volunteers receiving either inulin or IPE were invited to each as much as they liked from a buffet. Those who had received IPE ate an average of 14 percent less.
Future commercial release
Weight management is crucial to avoiding the development of diabetes and for preventing diabetes complications in those who already have the disease. Working with your doctor and nutritionist is a necessary first step - but it's also encouraging to know there are options like IPE being researched that could help manage weight effectively. The researchers are currently working with a technology commercialization company to begin to bring IPE to market after its promising trial in a research setting.