Appetite-suppressing hormone discovered
An international team of scientists has discovered a hormone that can significantly decrease the appetite, reducing the amount of food eaten in a day by a third.

The research, published in August in Nature, shows how scientists from Imperial College London, with assistance from Oregon Health and Sciences University and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, discovered the novel action of hormone PYY3-36. The hormone is normally released from the gastrointestinal tract after eating, in proportion to calorific meal content, telling the brain the body is no longer hungry.

When a group of volunteers received artificial infusions of the hormone at normal post-feeding concentrations, their food intake was reduced by a third for a day. Professor Stephen Bloom, from Imperial College London at the Hammersmith Hospital, said, “The discovery that PYY3-36 suppresses appetite could be of huge benefit to those struggling with weight problems. With over a billion people across the world now extremely overweight, it is vital this problem is tackled. It may be possible to identify foods which cause the release of more PYY3-36, helping to naturally limit appetite, or it may be possible to create a tablet with a similar effect, providing an excellent, natural, and safe long-term treatment for obesity.”

Nutraceuticals gaining flavor and ground
A newly published Packaged Facts report available at states that marketers have overcome the challenge of maintaining the flavor and taste of a food with nutraceutical elements by using new technologies and ingredient implementation techniques.

According to The U.S. Market for Nutraceutical Foods and Beverages, these improvements allow many products to have the potential to be reformulated as nutraceutical foods, even alcoholic beverages, candies, and desserts.

“It seems that the development of nutraceutical products is poised to explode,” Don Montuori, Acquisition Editor for Packaged Facts, said. “We have already seen meats with cholesterol-lowering properties, such as stanol ester, and the market innovation does not look like it will stop there. Many experts predict that candies with medicinal properties will become very popular in coming years, giving parents an easy method of getting vitamins and nutrients into their children’s diets.”

In the past year, several new products in the meat, water, and candy categories have been introduced with nutraceutical positioning. And while regulatory complications may hinder the rapid development of some new products, sales of nutraceuticals reached $17.2 billion in 2001, up from $16.5 billion in 2000, and are expected to exceed $22 billion by 2006.

Savory snack sales increasing
Overall sales of savory snacks grew 5.1% between 2000 and 2001 to reach $21.8 billion, according to the Snack Food Association and Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine’s annual “State of the Industry Report.”

The figure includes potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, popcorn, cheese snacks, corn snacks, pork rinds, party mixes, and meat snacks. When sales of cookies, crackers, and snack bars are included, 2001 snack sales reached more than $34 billion.

The strongest U.S. snack sales growth in 2001 came from meat snacks at 15.8%, followed by potato chips at 7%, pumpkin and sunflower seeds at 5.5%, and tortilla chips at 5%. Overall salty snack sales increased 5.1% in 2001.

Total 2001 retail sales of meat snacks were $2 billion, or 139.5 million lb—a 14.9% increase in volume over the previous year. Increased meat snack sales are due to several factors, including a wider audience, increased distribution, and consumer demand for more convenience. America’s favorite salty snack, potato chips, achieved $6.04 billion in sales in 2001, or 1.85 billion lb. The 3% increase in amount sold between 2000 and 2001 is due, in part, to new and innovative flavors. Some of the potato chip flavors introduced by SFA members in 2001 were grilled steak and onion, salt and pepper, blue cheese, Cheddar and mesquite, and butter. The pumpkin/sunflower seed category reached $138.3 million in 2001 sales or 52.4 million lb. Pretzels saw a slight increase in sales of 0.9% to reach $1.2 billion.

GAO issues report on weight-loss supplements
The U.S. General Accounting Office issued a report in July that stated federal regulation oversight has focused more on the marketing than on the safety of dietary supplements used for weight loss.

Since the enactment of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994, U.S. sales of weight-loss supplements have increased steadily. The sales revenue of weight loss supplements—reported to be the fastest-growing segment of the dietary supplement industry—increased 10–20% annually from 1997 to 2001, and industry officials expect that rate of increase to continue.

Americans spent an estimated $2 billion on weight-loss supplements in 2001. As sales of weight-loss supplements have increased, so have concerns associated with their marketing and use. Regulators, medical experts, and the dietary supplement industry recognize that some weight-loss supplements may be marketed with overstated claims. Some weight-loss supplements have been associated with serious side effects.

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NIH funds echinacea and St. John’s wort research
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), components of the National Institutes of Health, announced a 5-year, $6 million grant for the establishment of a research center based in Ames, Iowa, to study two botanical dietary supplement ingredients, echinacea and hypericum (St. John’s wort).

Echinacea is believed to ward off colds and other infections, while St. John’s wort is thought to combat mild depression.

The new Center for Dietary Supplement Research brings together two traditionally strong research institutions, Iowa State University in Ames and the University of Iowa in Iowa City. The Center Director, Diane F. Birt, chairs the Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University and is an expert in nutrition and its relation to disease. Other Center scientists have expertise in toxicology, medicinal pharmacology, clinical medicine, epidemiology, nutrition, chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, botany, horticulture and statistics.

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Assistant Editor