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Monday, 20 March, 2000, 00:09 GMT
'Diet dust' hope for obese
Overweight people
"Diet dust" could offer hope for the obese
People suffering from obesity could soon be treated with magic "diet dust" which would encourage them to eat less, according to scientists.

A report by the government-backed forecasting organisation Foresight says a new generation of slimming foods could become a reality if biochemists work closely with food manufacturers.

The "mood food" would be sprinkled over a dish in the same way as salt and pepper.

Chemicals contained within it would send messages to the brain, improving the mood of the diner and preventing them from gorging.

Other ideas include:

  • Intelligent foods which metabolise to give energy, but decide for themselves when they will be digested, to avoid weight gain.
  • Additives which prevent fat and sugar being absorbed.
  • Plant extracts which replace fat in foods, without affecting the taste.

    Foresight's Professor Janet Bainbridge said: "Diet dust could become a reality if we can safely apply technology to the food chain.

    "It would be a food equivalent of aromatherapy - calming appetites instead of senses."

    "Diet dust" could be sprinkled onto fatty foods
    Prof Bainbridge, director of the School of Science and Technology at the University of Teesside, added: "Obesity is a growing problem - it causes personal misery and is becoming an increasing burden on health services in the UK.

    "Slimming aids are available and may be effective in the short term, but for a lot of people they are boring and their weight yo-yos as a result."

    She said obesity was growing in the developed world because of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and an over-reliance on junk food.

    One staggering statistic provided by Prof Bainbridge was that 30 cents out of every dollar spent on food in the US is on food consumed in the car.

    Janet Bainbridge
    Prof Bainbridge says "mood food" could be the answer
    She stressed that such "diet dust" would have to be completely safe before it could go on the market.

    "It is all very well creating space age slimming foods, but we must ensure there are consumer safeguards," she said.

    "The growth in the number of people suffering from slimming disorders, for example, needs to be taken into account and will be one of the issues we want to discuss."

    Foresight, which comes under the aegis of the Department of Trade and Industry, brings together experts from the business community, scientists, volunteers and civil servants.

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    07 Jan 00 | Health
    Chubby Britain heads for gym
    04 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
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    28 Jan 00 | Health
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