LAS VEGAS, June 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- New research findings on evidenced-based approaches to tackle childhood obesity were presented and discussed today by a panel of national experts at the Institute of Food Technology annual meeting in Las Vegas. The approaches ranged from maximizing food satiety while reducing both calories and portion size to new insights into infant satiety. The symposium, "Preventing childhood obesity: What the food industry can do," brought together prominent researchers in nutrition, public health, food-related behavior, and product development.
The expert panel agreed that obesity prevention must begin very early in life, earlier than previously thought. "Accelerated weight gain during the first year of life increases later risk for a number of diseases including obesity," said Dr. Julie Mennella of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. "Formula-fed infants grow faster than their breastfed counterparts, and many experts believe that this difference may have long-term health implications." Dr. Mennella also points out that not all formula-fed infants experience rapid growth, with differences in formula composition likely having an important effect.
Following up on recent finding that babies fed a standard cow milk formula tend to grow faster than do those fed protein-hydrolysate varieties, Dr. Mennella and Dr. Alison Ventura investigated the contribution of glutamate, the most abundant amino acid in breast milk, on infant satiety. Glutamate also is present at very high levels in protein hydrolysate formulas, but at very low levels in cow milk formula. "Our findings showed that the amino acid glutamate helps promote infant satiety," said Dr. Mennella. This may help explain why breastfed babies and those fed protein-hydrolysate formulas exhibit more normative growth than do infants fed cow milk formulas. The findings also call into question claims that formula-fed infants cannot self regulate their energy intake.
These findings, published in the April issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, were reported during the IFT symposium.
Other approaches discussed by the panel addressed manipulating energy density, nutrient density, and portion size. "Reducing energy density of food without compromising taste and flavor offers one promising tool toward weight management in kids," said Dr. Barbara Rolls, an expert on feeding behavior at Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Rolls' work has long focused on how to feel full on fewer calories, by adjusting food energy and food volume.
Dr. Britt Burton Freeman, Illinois Institute of Technology, discussed ways of improving the nutrient-to-calorie ratio within food products with the aim of improving diet quality and ultimately lowering childhood obesity rates. She urged industry to pursue development of new products that impart a sense of satiety and lower the urge to snack.
"Industry can play a significant role in developing and marketing foods that are nutrient dense, affordable and appealing," said Dr. Adam Drewnowski, of the University of Washington, who organized and chaired the panel. "Making such foods more available in the world marketplace is something that the food industry definitely can do."
Mr. Masatoshi Ito, President and CEO of Ajinomoto Co. Inc., sponsor of the IFT symposium, agreed. "As a global food company, we have a responsibility to pursue, identify and bring forward a range of options that provide enjoyment and satisfaction, while contributing to health and wellness," Mr. Ito said. "We are excited to better understand how developing positive eating patterns early in life can have a favorable impact on our body weight and health as adults."
SOURCE Ajinomoto Company Inc.