When addressing weight management, those in the natural products industry keep a realistic eye on diet, exercise and equipment, along with scientific backing of ingredients.
Weight management makes up a large piece of sales in the supplement market and for good reason. Consumers have come to realize that diet and exercise is the key to sustainable weight management; supplements using premium, branded ingredients that are safe and backed by science can support weight management goals.
“Gone are the days of ‘magic bullet’ pills boasting unfounded claims or using questionable ingredients with potential side effects, which fueled the growth we’ve seen in this category before 2013,” said Lynda Doyle, senior vice president of global marketing with NJ-based OmniActive Health Technologies. “Post-2013, the category has undergone a market ‘correction’ as manufacturers rely less on sensationalism and realize that consumers are increasingly savvy when it comes to weight-loss claims and want effective formulas. And with greater FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) scrutiny in this category, manufacturers are evaluating the science first to support their claims and formulas. That can only lead to better formulas that can prosper in this growing market.”
Annie Eng, CEO of Florida-based HP Ingredients, pointed out that the facts about obesity drive the overall weight-fat loss/management category. “According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than one third of U.S. adults are obese (36.5 percent). Even carrying an extra 15 to 20 pounds can increase risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.”
And according to Shaheen Majeed, marketing director with New Jersey-based Sabinsa, the weight-loss and weight-management market can be divided into different categories—diet (meal, beverage and supplements), equipment (fitness and surgical equipment), and services. “Amongst the three,” said Majeed, “the diet segment accounts for the largest market share in this segment. Various factors that attribute to the larger share include a rise in the number of obese and overweight people, lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, increase in disposable incomes, and of course increasing health awareness in people.”
By 2019 the global weight loss and weight management market is estimated to clock in at $206.4 billion (against $148.1 billion in 2014), growing at a CAGR of 6.9 percent, according to a2amarketreseach.com.
The biggest advancement in the natural weight management arena has been in branded ingredients, which are in greater demand than ever before, said Rick Antonoff, president of Novel Ingredient Services in New Jersey. “Twenty years ago, Novel was a pioneer in this category with Advantra Z. Now we offer two additional branded ingredients for weight management: Kinetiq and Physicor. These are scientifically supported ingredients that not only follow strict quality assurance/quality control guidelines, but also provide the quality value that is necessary for the long-term viability, confidence and stability of a consumer brand. All three are thermogenic ingredients, which have consistently out-performed other types of weight loss ingredients—fat blockers, satiety agents, hormone influencers, etc.”
“As more consumers are realizing the benefits offered by natural ingredients in terms of healthy weight loss and/or weight management, demand for such ingredients is on the rise,” according to Majeed. “Continued efforts by the industry on the research front have also led to discoveries of new and exciting weight-loss supplement ingredients.”
One of the innovations brought from the pharmaceutical industry to the dietary supplements industry is bi-layer technology, Majeed added. “The greatest advantage of this bi-layer technology is in the flexibility it offers for formulators in using ingredients that otherwise would be too difficult to deliver in combination. Sabinsa Corporation offers this technology under the name Integrated Nutritional Composites (INC).” Several bi-layer INC tablets have been formulated including Sabinsa’s science—backed weight management ingredients ForsLean and LeanGard.
Other branded ingredients include HP Ingredients’ CitruSlim, a proprietary blend of citrus flavanone-O-glycosides from bergamot and eurypeptides from Eurycoma longifolia that can promote an anabolic state, reduce cortisol, activate AMPK, reduce triglycerides, and help balance blood glucose levels. CitruSlim can promote healthy weight loss by helping dieters maintain high energy levels during weight-loss programs, prevent the body from storing fat and reduce appetite.
Patrick Luchsinger, marketing manager, nutrition, with Ingredion Incorporated in Illinois said Ingredion’s Weightain satiety ingredient leverages Ingredion’s unique high-amylose resistant starch, whole grain, hydrocolloids and a proprietary composite technology. It is more than a simple dry blend, he said. The technology enables higher resistant starch (RS) comparable (final) viscosity and lower gumminess. Through this proprietary process, Weightain satiety ingredient delivers on three of the most validate satiety mechanisms:
• Starch fermentation in the colon triggers satiety, decreasing feelings of hunger
• Increased gastrointestinal viscosity prolongs absorption, reducing calorie consumption
• Whole grains delay digestion, helping to reduce hunger pangs
Weightain satiety ingredient is easy to work with across a wide range of formulations and can be utilized across a broad range of on-the-go applications, such as smoothies, shakes, granola-type bars, muffins and supplements.
Julie Imperato, marketing manager with Nexira, based in France with U.S. offices in New Jersey, said Nexira offers ID-alG, a brown seaweed extract, which has weight-loss properties. “Two clinical studies have been conducted,” she said. “They have demonstrated the benefits of this ingredient on weight loss and on body shape improvement. What is really interesting is that abdominal fat, often related to esthetical issues, is the most difficult fat to lose, especially for women 45-plus. Losing abdominal and visceral fat mass is associated to a better general well being. Another point to be highlighted is that ID-alG is really efficient without any digestive discomfort.” Due to the consumer shift away from utilizing diet products, advancements are more geared toward developing close-to-nature, good-tasting, and nutrient-dense ingredients and products, added Rikka Cornelia, product manager with California-based BI Nutraceuticals. “For instance, several plant-based proteins have popped up in just the last two years including but not limited to faba bean protein, lentil protein, pumpkin seed protein, and sunflower seed protein.”
What are the Trends?
According to Innova Research, as for the weight-management market, weight loss is still the leading category, followed by meal replacement. “However, we notice that botanical and herbal supplements have more than doubled during the last two years,” said Imperato.
“Natural products, coming from a vegetable source are the most requested ingredients. Consumers also want to know more about the ingredients used: where do they come from, how and where they are processed.”
She added that with the global increase of overweight or obesity troubles, many people of all ages are interested in losing or maintaining weight—teenagers, adults and seniors; males and females, etc. “The new and major trend of this growing market is that weight management is now even more aligned with global ‘health’ management. People now take into consideration the fact that being overweight is not only a problem of physical appearance/external beauty, but is also generally linked to serious health problems (among others: cardiovascular, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.). Ingredients should therefore not only target weight loss, but also offer holistic health features.”
Another trend, noted Luchsinger, “is that there is more of a focus on improving the health of the microbiome (the home of your gut bacteria) through dietary changes, prebiotic and probiotic supplements, and other lifestyle adjustments such as healthy eating habits. Also, the importance of maintaining good gut bacteria beginning in the early stages and throughout the stages of life has become clearer. Consumers are open to the idea of products that can help them meet their nutritional needs or help them manage their health, including weight.”
An area of interest to formulators is ingredients that impact how carbohydrates are utilized. Carb blockers can help block the enzymes that the body uses to absorb certain carbohydrates by preventing the process of breaking down the links present in complex carbs by certain enzymes, making them unavailable for the absorption. Sabinsa’s Fabenol and Fabenol Max are the standardized extracts of Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean, kidney bean). Fabenol, a natural carbohydrate blocker, is an extract with α-amylase inhibitory activity. This α–amylase inhibitor is identified in the protein fraction of the bean. This protein binds with the active sites of α-amylase and prevents the starch metabolizing activity, offering potential benefits in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and ideal body composition.
The weight management category has seen expansion due to an acceptance of lifestyle management. “As consumers adopt healthier lifestyle choices,” noted Doyle, “they are also increasingly interested in supplementing with safe and effective ingredients that are easily recognizable and from natural sources. Moreover, new market opportunities are being created as the weight management category expands into healthy weight wellness and the proactive lifestyle.”
Known as the “Proactives,” these consumers aren’t necessarily overweight but are still making conscious decisions in their lives to maintain a healthy weight, whether it is watching their caloric intake, wearing trackers such as Fitbits, using monitoring apps such as myfitnesspal.com or supplementing with safe, and effective weight management, sports nutrition and healthy lifestyle ingredients, which are:
• Clean, science-backed and efficacious
• Natural, and provide simple solutions
• Easily able to fit into an overall wellness regimen
• Able to optimize healthy choices
As an example, Capsimax, an extract of capsicum, is a natural, stimulant-free ingredient that is easily recognized by consumers since it comes from a food source—red hot chili peppers. Red hot chili peppers have been part of the human diet for thousands of years and now a great deal of science corroborates their role for healthy weight management. Capsicum is a great option for those looking for a safe, natural and efficacious ingredient.
At HP Ingredients, Eng said, “The trend we see is really in the area of exercise and fitness, as more and more Americans realize that it is not diet alone that spurs weight and fat loss; and diet alone does not promote better health and well-being. When you look at exercise trends, there are numerous new things out there, including equipment. We point this out because we believe that supplements for weight management must follow suit and take into account physical fitness, increasing one’s ability to gain the most out of their exercise regimens—and key in on promoting lean body mass. And this is where our LJ100 comes in.”
In one study, 14 men took either 100 mg/day LJ100 or placebo for eight weeks while also performing a regular intense strength-training fitness program. Results showed that the LJ100 group experienced significant increase in fat-free mass (FFM), reduce body fat percentages (FM), increase in gross muscle power (1 RM) and significant increase in arm circumference.
When it comes to delivery format, “the ‘best way’ to utilize weight management ingredients is however consumers want to consume them,” said Antonoff. All three of the company’s branded weight management ingredients—Advantra Z, Kinetiq and Physicor—offer excellent stability across a range of delivery forms: tablets, capsules, powders, beverages, as well as functional foods, he noted.
But more consumers want weight management supplementation to be part of their regular diets, Antonoff added. “This growth in functional foods for weight management is a major trend that often includes convenience foods—bars, stick packs, powders, gummies, and beverages K-cup pods, ready-to-drink, powdered)—that people can take with them. Gummies, in particular, are huge right now.”
Luchsinger agreed, stating that bars, smoothies, shakes and muffins are areas of innovation and are increasingly popular items for weight management and satiety products, as these can be taken to the office or another location for on-the-go consumption.
Both fiber-rich and protein-rich botanicals work well in bars and supplements, offered Cornelia. “And fiber-rich ingredients are ideal for baked goods, especially gluten-free ones since they provide structure, while protein-rich ingredients are ideal for smoothies since they have a thicker consistency. The most recent advancements in delivery involve plant-based proteins, which comes as no surprise with their skyrocketing popularity. They have improved in every aspect, from flavor (de-flavored versions) to solubility (hydrolyzed versions). Due to these advancements, they are making their way into a variety of product applications, from baked goods to chips to even water.”
Another dietary fiber ingredient, Ingredion’s new Versafibe helps provide the fiber-rich and reduced-calorie products consumers want while delivering good taste and texture in bakery products, cereals, snacks, pastas and more. They also give manufacturers the ability to stand out in the marketplace with claims like “good source of fiber” or “excellent source of fiber” as well as “gluten free.”
Science of Note
Regarding weight management, “overall, suppliers and manufacturers are strongly interested in research showing mechanisms of stimulating metabolism,” said Eng. “The reason for this interest is that millions of people who fall into the ‘overweight’ category need a boost to their metabolic function in order to keep them on track to transforming to a fit and healthy body. When one’s metabolism is sluggish due to aging and in women, perimenopause, the person feels the need to drastically ‘diet’—severely reducing food intake—or over exercise to lose some weight. This almost always leads to failure because it cannot be sustained. Therefore, boosting metabolic function while eating a healthy diet and exercising will indeed help millions to stay on track and reach their goals.”
Luchsinger noted that peer-reviewed published data is often preferred as it provides the scientific support and backbone for many weight management/satiety claims. “Peer-reviewed data is a critical part of advancing the knowledge and understanding of how these ingredients work in the body. Investing in the peer-reviewed science behind nutritional ingredients, such as Ingredion’s Nutraflora scFOS prebiotic fiber and Biologo GOS which can help support the gut microbiome, to Weightain satiety ingredient for reduction of caloric intake is an important part of the process.”
Like other responsible suppliers, Antonoff said Novel demands—and supports—both safety and efficacy research. “Manufacturers should as well. Safety research is especially important for weight management ingredients because of potential cardiovascular and central nervous system issues that have emerged in past weight-management ingredients.”
According to Antonoff, research into all three of Novel’s branded weight management ingredients, Advantra Z, Kinetiq and Physicor, has shown that they can be used safely without causing negative cardiovascular or central nervous system side effects. “Certainly,” he said, “Advantra Z, which has been the industry’s leading thermogenic ingredient since the 1990s has a proven track record of safety.”
But clinical efficacy research is equally important, he added. “To have true value, a weight management ingredient must work, demonstrating real-life applications. At Novel, we continue to invest in research because we want our branded ingredients not only to meet cGMPs (current good manufacturing practices), but also to add value to formulas, build interest at retail, withstand detractors’ scrutiny, and endure the test of time in an ever-changing industry. There’s nothing like transparency to build confidence among manufacturers, retailers, as well as consumers.”
And given that this category has historically included some products with claims not supported by research, today having science that demonstrates safety and efficacy is essential, said Majeed. “Standardized extracts from Sabinsa have been evaluated by scientific researchers and their mechanism of action very clearly understood, even before subsequent clinical substantiation of safety and efficacy was undertaken.”
According to Eng, a hurdle that still exists [in the weight management category] is to compete honestly against those brands that over-promise and under-deliver. “Those give all of us a black eye,” she said. “The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is doing what it can to get rid of these bad players, but we can team up and support the agency’s efforts by self-policing and reporting.”
That is also a matter of using formulas with good science showing good results that consumers are looking for, said Doyle. “And, if possible, providing a formula that’s effective at a low dose and addresses multiple mechanisms for increased consumer compliance.
As an example, OmniActive has conducted more than five studies on Capsimax supporting its benefits for increased thermogenesis, lipolysis, increased metabolism and satiety in healthy human subjects at a low dose of 100 mg.
“The most successful products in this category have clinical substantial behind the claims, provided in the amounts science says impart those benefits,” added Majeed. “Formulators may encounter formulating issues involving multiple ingredients. One such challenge involves chemical incompatibilities between the actives by physical separation when developing tablets with immediate release and sustained release profile. In such a scenario, bi-layer technology can solve that problem.”
Satiety is another obstacle, Luchsinger said. “With the increasing prevalence of obesity, enhancing the satiating capacity of foods and beverages may help people better control and manage their energy intake and weight. Enhancing the satiating capacity of foods requires an integrated approach between various food-related disciplines. Three hurdles to enhance satiety include: 1) to change the food composition to develop stronger physiological satiation and satiety signals, 2) anticipate and build on smart external stimuli at the moment of purchase and consumption, and 3) improve the taste and acceptance of satiety enhanced foods.”
To summarize, innovation, effectiveness and safety are the keys for a new product. “Lots of ingredients have already been tested and used for this category,” Imperato said. “Suppliers and manufacturers have to find ‘news’—new ingredient, new activity, unique blends, etc. As the market is very attractive, even for products with no or low effect or associated with discomfort, new ingredients have to demonstrate their benefits and their tolerance.” NIE
For More Information:
BI Nutraceuticals, (310) 669-2100
HP Ingredients, (877) 437-2234
Ingredion, (800) 713-0208
Nexira, +33 2 32831818
Novel Ingredient Services, (973) 808-5900
OmniActive Health Technologies, (866) 588-3629
Sabinsa, (732) 777-1111