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Food science to fight obesity

Food science to fight obesity
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As the Christmas holidays near, so does the temptation to indulge a little more than usual in all the culinary delights that come with the festive season.

Researchers in Pisa, Italy, are investigating why some people are so seduced by food that they simply can’t stop eating.

As part of the study, volunteers are shown pictures of appetizing foods and are even fed chocolate while their brain is scanned.

The premise is that the brain’s reward system responds to the stimulus provided by rewarding and palatable foods and appears to override those that serve to keep us in energy balance.

“Brain activity increases because of these stimuli, in this case chocolate. We see this in slim people and in obese people. The brain activity differs, depending on whether an obese person is more or less dependent on food,” says researcher Maria Angela Guzzardi.

Scientists have noticed that some patients, who appear to present addictive profiles, experience less pleasure when eating, because they need more stimulus, in other words more food.

It’s believed food addiction and obesity problems could be reduced if food contained fewer calories. That is the goal of this European research project entitled Pleasure. French researchers in the city of Nantes are trying to find ways of reducing the quantity of salt, fat and sugar in pizza – while maintaining its appeal.

“The aim of the project is help consumers adjust or reduce the quantity of sugar, salt or fat they consume, while providing them with the sensation that they are enjoying a well-balanced and tasty diet,” says Professor Alain Le Bail, specialist in food science.

Here, processed food is being tested. This artificial masticator allows researchers to imitate saliva flow and chewing movements. It provides researchers with reliable data on the texture and the feeling of the various food products.

The ultimate aim being to be able to eat with pleasure but without harming the waistline!

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