Approaching weight management from a completely new angle, Chr. Hansen is currently investigating how probiotics may be able to help consumers maintain a healthy weight balance.
Chr. Hansen and the University of Copenhagen are collaborating on a groundbreaking weight management research project dubbed “ProSat”. The objective is to investigate the use of probiotics for weight control.
Triggering the feeling of fullness
Chr. Hansen’s aim is to develop scientifically documented probiotic solutions suitable for food and nutraceutical applications which will trigger the consumer’s feeling of fullness. In this way food intake is likely to be reduced, thereby contributing to a healthy weight balance. The target population is slightly overweight to standard weight individuals who want to maintain a healthy weight balance.
A British analysis of 57 studies recently published in The Lancet (Whitlock 2009) concluded that even moderate obesity cuts life expectancy by about three years.
The importance of the gut flora in weight management
“With excess body weight a growing problem around the world, weight management is indisputably a major health issue today. This project will significantly improve our understanding of the bacterial intestinal flora’s importance in individual weight management,” says Professor Arne Vernon Astrup, MD, DMSc who co-represents the University of Copenhagen in the project. An internationally acclaimed nutrition and obesity academic, Astrup today heads up the Department of Human Nutrition at LIFE - Faculty of Life Sciences.
“Initial results in a previous research project indicate that specific probiotic derivates do have an interesting satiety effect,” explains Astrup. “It is much too early to draw any conclusions but if this project demonstrates a link between probiotics and satiety, consumers around the world will have a groundbreaking new, documented means to help them maintain a healthy weight balance.”
Sophisticated technological animal model
“This project makes use of a unique and sophisticated animal model to study satiety parameters,” explains Professor, Dr. Med. Sci Jens Juul Holst — an internationally renowned academic expert on gastro-intestinal hormones. “One possible mechanism of action for satiating probiotics is that they may cause a release of satiety inducing hormones from the gut. We are studying this directly in surviving segments of the small intestine from pigs which resemble humans very much in this respect,” Holst explains.
Linked to core competencies
“Satiety being an unexplored indication for probiotics, ProSat moves in virgin research territory. Still, it connects immediately with Chr. Hansen’s core competencies in probiotics, meaning focus on securing strong scientific documentation and intellectual property rights,” comments Benedicte Flambard, Director Innovation, Health & Nutrition Division, Chr. Hansen.
“Our findings show that only very few bacteria can do the job and we have been fortunate to find one exceptionally effective strain on production of satiety hormones. Afterwards it is matter of combining our core competence in product formulation to design promising product prototypes for the food and dietary supplement industries,” Flambard says.
Few select international food and dietary supplements producers have already been invited to follow the ProSat developments and according to Chr. Hansen’s Lars Bredmose, Marketing Director, Probiotic Cultures and Sune Schmoelker, Director, Commercial Development, Health & Nutrition Division the initial feedback from the industry players justifies the project team’s high expectations.
“We have market confirmation from some of the world’s leading weight management experts in the commercial environment. We’re still at an early stage in the process but we do believe that this could be big. If the research continues to produce positive results we expect to be able to market the first probiotic satiety solutions within a couple of years from now,” Bredmose says.
Catering to healthy lifestyle trend
New Nutrition Business highlights weight management as one of 10 key trends in 2009. The journal’s 2009 trends issue said: “In Europe and the US we are observing a decline of the concept of dieting and in stead the rise of weight management as one component of a broader healthy lifestyle. While consumers continue to think about their weight, they have become disillusioned by diets focused on what they can’t eat – or offering products that don’t taste good – and are hungry for a different kind of solution.”
WHO has identified overweight and obesity as one of the biggest threats to public health. According to WHO 1.6 billion people over age 15 are overweight. Satiety is likely to be the strongest driver of the future direction of the weight management market in Europe, the US and in Asia, according to New Nutrition Business.
Chr. Hansen is a global bioscience company that develops natural ingredient solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. The products include cultures, enzymes, probiotics and natural colors, and all solutions are based on strong research and development competencies coupled with significant technology investments. Revenue in the 2013/14 financial year was EUR 756 million. The company holds a leading market position in all its divisions: Cultures & Enzymes, Health & Nutrition and Natural Colors. It has more than 2,500 dedicated employees in over 30 countries and main production facilities in Denmark, France, USA and Germany. Chr. Hansen was founded in 1874 and is listed on NASDAQ OMX Copenhagen.