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Anti-hunger aromas have real potential in obesity fight

By Stephen Daniells , 17-Dec-2009

The concept of using aroma to produce anti-hunger feelings during chewing is “promising and appealing”, says a timely review of the science-to-date.

A timely review, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, pools all the science so far, and concludes that: “The application of aroma in food product development for inducing satiation is promising and appealing,” according to its authors, led by Rianne Ruijschop from NIZO Food Research.

“Complementary to ingredients that focus on the postingestive and postabsorptive stage of the satiety cascade, retronasal aroma release, operating during food ingestion, has a consumer benefit that is immediately noticeable,” they added.

As obesity levels continue to grow around the world, the food industry is exploring avenues to aid with weight management. One such approach has been satiety, or the feeling of fullness, in order to reduce food intake.

Appetite and smell

Ruijschop and colleagues review the science on how foods that release hunger-quenching aromas during chewing may aid weight management. The effects reportedly arise when molecules that make up a food's aroma activate areas of the brain that signal fullness.

NIZO researchers have been leading the way in research in this area. They have previously reported two examples of how aromas may possibly induce satiety through fermented dairy products.

Using organic acids derived through fermentation the researchers altered the extent of retro-nasal aroma release. This resulted in a perceived increase in satiation.

The study suggests that physical structure in food products is an important contributor to retro-nasal aroma release, as solid foods tend to generate the stimulus for a longer time than liquid products.

Using a process known as olfactometry, traditionally used to test and measure the sensitivity of sense of smell, the researchers claimed that aroma stimuli could be administered separately from other factors like ingredients, texture and taste.

Early days

“Although the extent of retronasal aroma release appears to be subject specific, food product properties can be tailored in such a way that these can lead to a higher quality and/or quantity of retronasal aroma stimulation,” wrote Ruijschop.

“This in turn provokes enhanced feelings of satiation and ultimately may contribute to a decrease in food intake,” they added.

“Among the proof-of-principle studies that were performed, the prolongation of the duration of retronasal aroma release, the addition of specific ingredient-related aroma cues, the engineering of more complex aroma compositions, and the adaptation of bite size or duration of oral processing may prove to be valuable aroma concepts for the development of foods containing triggers that induce or increase the feeling of satiation.

“The next challenge is to implement these concepts into real food products,” they concluded.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Volume 57, Number 21, Pages 9888–9894
"Retronasal Aroma Release and Satiation: A Review"
Authors: R.M.A.J. Ruijschop, A.E.M. Boelrijk, C. de Graaf, M.S. Westerterp-Plantenga

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