Many components of foods have an effect on satiety and satiation, as they have an effect on energy metabolism and on hormones related to hunger and satiety. For example, protein-rich and solid foods have a higher satiating effect, whereas high-fat and liquid foods have a low satiating efficiency. This knowledge can be used to develop new foods with a higher satiating efficiency.
Another issue is the identification of new components/substances that have an effect on satiety and satiation. New developments in molecular biology, pharmacology and nutrigenomics enhance our insight in the complex pathways involved in energy balance. From these insights new substances will become available that will affect mechanisms involved in hunger and satiety, like Hoodia gordonii and Rimonabant®. New substances with a plausible mechanism should first be tested in animal studies with respect to toxicological aspects, and their potential to influence short- and long-term energy balance. This may be followed by short-term safety and efficacy tests in humans. Eventually, the substances may be used in more-long-term trials with humans. Relevant biomarkers of satiety need to be identified. Specific focus is needed for the identification of those short-term biomarkers that will predict long-term body weight changes.
Several reviews (Egger et al., 1999; Allison et al., 2001; Zemel, 2005) have been published on the effect of supplements on weight loss, such as chromium, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), hydroxycitric acid (HCA), chitosan and Ma Huang (ephedra). In general there is no convincing evidence for the efficacy of the substances reviewed.
Apart from influencing feelings of hunger and satiety, two other potential mechanisms are involved in products aimed at weight loss or weight maintenance:
1 Reduction of energy intake. Examples are substances purported to block the absorption of fat; fat replacers, like Olestra (sucrose polyester); low-calorie products, such as light products and meal replacers.
2 Increasing energy expenditure. Examples are substances with an effect on fat burning, changes in basal metabolism and thermogenesis increase energy expenditure, like caffeine and ephedra.
For the design of new products that influence feelings of hunger and satiety it is necessary to identify food components with a satiating effect. Products could either speed up satiation (so that one stops eating sooner) or induce long-term satiety (so that one is not feeling hungry for a prolonged period after eating the product). These could be products or substances with an effect on noradrenalin and serotonin, such as St John's Wort and capsaicin, or products or substances that influence stomach filling, such as fiber, resistant starch or pectin. Products may need to be combined with interventions on other lifestyle factors such as physical activity to obtain optimal weight management.
To evaluate whether new or existing weight management products are effective in influencing satiety and satiation, biomarkers of both satiety and satiation should be used in controlled human intervention studies. Upon intervention, the marker should change in a statistically significant as well as physiological relevant way.
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