The weight management category is as strong as ever, and science-based ingredients are a top priority for manufacturers and consumers.
Adiverse range of American consumers are Increasingly focused on weight loss and weight maintenance within a broadening context of personal health and lifestyle issues. More specifically, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 66 percent of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. And the ramifications of this epidemic are deadly serious: obesity can lead to a variety of life-threatening diseases and related health problems including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. As such, the weight management category continues to be strong in the natural industry, while the future has boundless potential.
“The weight management market is almost limitless,” said Bob Green, president of Nutratech, a New Jersey-based ingredient supplier. “In fact, there are very few people who are not potential customers of weight management products. I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t been outside of his or her ideal weight at one time or another. So this market has huge, ongoing potential.”
Long-term trends for weight management dietary supplements remain positive, added Paul Dijkstra, CEO of California-based InterHealth Nutraceuticals, a developer of proprietary nutritional ingredients. “Heightened consumer awareness of the relationShip between diet and health has increased demand for weight management products even in today’s economy. Consumers also recognize that maintaining a healthy weight may help keep costly doctor visits and medications at bay, which is extremely important when money is tight. In today’s economic times, consumers are paying greater attention to their health.”
Confidence is Key
Today’s weight control supplement marketplace offers a variety of effective options to help consumers maximize their weight-loss goals. However, consumer confidence in weight management supplements and ingredients mostly depends on two things—their own level of education and companies’ abilities to back up their claims with proven science.
Reputability, efficacy and safety are bigger issues in this category than any other, said Dijkstra. “The focus needs to be on education, particularly in this segment where there are literally hundreds of weight-loss products on the market, many of which are ineffective. Wild claims combined with negative media coverage have made consumers wary. Weight-loss supplements continue to represent important sales drivers, but many in the industry are waiting to see how negative attention will affect long-term category growth.”
There is still skepticism from many shoppers on whether a product will actually work, added Corey Jansen, product manager for Kemin, a specialty ingredient manufacturer based in Iowa. “Over the years, some product manufacturers have made outrageous claims about losing significant amounts of weight without making diet and lifestyle changes. This just isn’t sustainable over time, and shoppers have become more suspicious of products that make these types of claims. They need to see that products include ingredients that have been proven in human clinical trials to be safe and efficacious.”
However, key events that have affected the marketplace, such as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actions regarding the safety of weight-loss products, increased enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on marketing claims, and a shift in consumers’ education and attitude (moving away from looking for the magic bullet to seeking products that help maximize weight loss along with diet and exercise), has helped the entire industry gain confidence, said Scott Steil, president of Nutra Bridge, a Minnesotabased ingredient supplier.
“Consumer confidence is finally back on a nice growth trend within the weight-loss category. The number of products that can’t support claims are declining, thanks to increased efforts by the FTC and FDA,” said Steil. “This makes it a more level playing field for companies that do it right and invest in science that supports both efficacy and safety.”
The key to regaining consumer trust and ensuring future success in the weight-loss arena is found in building a partnership between ingredient suppliers, manufacturers, marketing companies and retailers, he added. “Suppliers need to invest significant resources in science and perform well-designed clinical studies in North America. Manufacturers need to use ingredients that have a proven track record. Marketers need to set realistic consumer expectations and then deliver a product that meets or exceeds them. Retailers should be focused on selling products that can back up claims and help the consumers use the supplement as part of a healthy weight management program as well as set objectives that can be obtained.”
Of course, the debate surrounding the FDA’s requirements for new dietary Ingredients (NDIs) has put several companies in a holding stage. “The current controversy around NDIs is also a challenge for all companies selling weightloss products,” said Steil. “My opinion is that once we have a clear understanding of the new policy and it is enforced, several of the suspect weightloss products will simply not exist in the marketplace. In the long run, this is a positive for our industry.”
Nutra Bridge’s 7-Keto® is a non-stimulant, thermogenic fat burner that effectively allows the body to burn fat more efficiently. The key driver that separates 7-Keto from other weightloss ingredients is the efficacy, said Steil. Two NDIs have been filed with FDA and its safety has been documented by published, human clinical studies. “We have invested millions of dollars in the science that supports our product, which is really starting to pay off as the weight management category becomes more demanding. Developing new weight-loss products today requires the use of products that are proven to work to satisfy more Savvy consumers as well as support ethical marketing claims.”
Still, much of the onus is still on the consumer. “You cannot sit on the sofa, eat potato chips and lose weight by taking a supplement,” said Nutratech’s Green. “There is no magic bullet. But science has shown that with proper diet and exercise, weight-management products that contain tried-and-true thermogenic ingredients will help speed up the metabolism and give consumers the jumpstart they need to help shed unwanted pounds.”
Specifically, Nutratech’s Advantra Z® is the only patented, all natural thermogenic ingredient for weight loss,Energy and fitness, said Green. Derived from the immature, or unripe, bitter orange fruit, Advantra Z’s dominant amine is p-synephrine, a stable isomer of synephrine that primarily stimulates beta 3 receptors, which increase thermogenesis and lipolysis, but do not affect blood pressure, he explained. “Thermogenic ingredients like Advantra Z should be a staple component in virtually every weightmanagement supplement.”
The Power of Proteins
Consumers are increasingly looking for products that help them not only lose weight, but also manage their weight more effectively. There is more scrutiny when it comes to the weight management category versus other categories. Products that use ingredients that are clinically proven and safe have a greater opportunity to capture sales and market share.
“The best ingredients are those which have proven safety and efficacy, and where long-term compliance with the consumer is not an issue,” said Suzanne McNeary, president of Vermont-based Icon Group, an affiliate of NutraGenesis and a marketer of weight-management ingredients. “In addition, the ingredient’s mechanism of action needs to be one that directly relates to long-term successful and safe weight loss, such as those that deal with leptin resistance or reducing the amount of dietary fat and sugar that is absorbed in the diet.”
Icon Group has two clinically proven ingredients—Lepticore® and WellTrim iG® (IGOB131®)—that directly address leptin resistance and promote weight loss. In addition, the company’s Synetrim CQ® is also clinically proven to promote healthy weight management by reducing the absorption of dietary fat and starch. All three of these ingredients promote satiety enhancement, which according to McNeary, “remains a very strong category that [should not] slow down any time soon.”
Satiety seems to be a popular choice lately, most likely because it is a safe alternative to possible harmful stimulants, added Katherine Bond, director of business development at California-based Cyvex Nutrition. “There is a significant population of candidates who need to lose weight but not want to jeopardize their health. There is also a natural link between food and satiety. People want to feel full which is why they overeat. If the participants had something to fill the void in supplement form, they would not feel So hungry, which would ultimately aid in weight loss.”
Enter Cyvex’s SolaThin™, a pure potato protein extract that is unique because it provides for a clean label, functionality and is manufactured in a socially responsible manner, according to Bond. SolaThin is a single ingredient, non-GMO vegetable-source protein offering a unique amino acid profile. It is solely comprised of low molecular weight amino acids from potatoes grown in the Netherlands, Bond explained.
It is no surprise that protein products are key in weight management—proteins are one of the strongest platforms for weight management, she added. “This has been driven by the increasing body of high-quality scientific research including a clinical study proving that high protein, low glycemic index diets are the most effective for weight loss.”
Proteins, after all, are the building blocks of the body, added Paul Lam, MBA, MBT, business development analyst at Burcon NutraScience, a Canadian-based developer of plant protein ingredients. “The different amino acids that make up proteins are important for growth and tissue repair or replacement. Almost every part of the body—especially bones and muscles— requires amino acids to stay healthy. There is no doubt that the amount of quality protein in one’s diet is the single most important calorie that influences one’s metabolic rate, favorably influencing weight loss. [Thus], the global protein ingredients market is estimated to reach $24.5 billion by 2015.”
Plant proteins are gaining popularity from the recognition that they offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to animal derived proteins, Lam continued. “Production of animal proteins is viewed as less ‘environmentally economic’ when compared to the production of plant proteins. Producers must feed plant protein to animals in order to produce animal proteins, and animals are not efficient converters, pound for pound, of the proteins they consume. There is also a growing awareness of the large amount of greenhouse gases generated globally through livestock production,” he said.
Burcon’s Puratein®, SuperteinT and NutrateinT canola protein isolates are three promising new protein ingredients derived from the oilseed canola; and PeazazzT pea protein isolate is its first protein ingredient from a non-oilseed source, said Lam, adding that all four novel proteins have exceptional nutritional and functional characteristics.
Additionally, Kemin’s Slendesta® is a natural protein sourced from potatoes that helps to control hunger for healthy weight management. Standardized to a special protein called proteinase inhibitor 2 (PI2), Slendesta works naturally with the body to control hunger without unpleasant side effects, such as jitters or bloating, that are common with some other weight management ingredients. Slendesta has been proven in human clinical studies to help control hunger and help people lose weight, said Kemin’s Jansen.
In addition to satiety, hip and waist reduction are increasingly important to consumers. “Consumers are definitely aware of belly fat accompanied by waist size,” said InterHealth’s Dijkstra. “Excess belly fat is what they see in the mirror and what they notice when their clothes no longer fit. Consumers are not only unhappy with their belly fat as it affects their appearance, but they also know the excess belly fat can negatively affect their health.”
Clinical research on the company’s Meratrim™ demonstrates reduction in not only weight, but waist and hip circumference as well. Meratrim has been clinically shown to reduce inches off these particular areas, helping to slim the stomach and hips, said Dijkstra. “Meratrim’s ability to burn fat, reduce fat storage and ultimately reduce hip and waist circumference may be due to its clinically studied ability to significantly increase the fat-burning hormone, adiponectin.”
Another developing trend is that most products in the weight management category are multi-ingredient formulas. There are many different pathways to weight gain—overeating, slow metabolism, depression, etc.—that vary with each individual. “Consumers are more likely to have success with products that offer complementary ingredients that address these different pathways, so they can choose supplement regimens tailored to meet their individual weight management needs,” said Nutratech’s Green.
The majority of finished goods in the weight management category are multiple ingredients, added Icon Group’s McNeary. “That is not to say that a single ingredient product can’t do really well, but the majority of marketers will take a workhorse ingredient and add additional complimentary ingredients to create their own formula offering,” she said. “However, the combination of clinically proven weight-management ingredients that have multiple mechanisms of action that are complementary to each other can be extremely successful.”
Burcon NutraScience, (604) 733-0896
Cyvex Nutrition, (949) 99-CYVEX
Icon Group, (802) 257-5345
InterHealth Nutraceuticals, (707) 751-2800
Kemin, (515) 559-5116
Nutra Bridge, (651) 245-8733
Nutratech, (973) 882-7773
Cocoa for Weight Loss
Scientists from the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition and Pennsylvania State University have recently claimed they have discovered that extracts from cocoa may block carbohydrate and lipid breakdown in the gut in a way that aids weight management.
The team reported that polyphenols from cocoa inhibited various digestive enzymes in a dose-dependent manner, meaning the more consumed, the greater the effect.
“The present study provides the first evidence that cocoa extracts and cocoa procyanidins are potent inhibitors of key enzymes in the digestion of carbohydrates and lipids in vitro, and these inhibitory activities are related to polyphenol content in cocoa extracts,” wrote the authors in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
It has been suggested that if additional research can further support these findings, cocoa polyphenols may find a role in the burgeoning weight-management market, already estimated to be worth $7 billion worldwide, according to News Today.
The health benefits of polyphenols from cocoa have been widely reported in the national media, with studies indicating potential benefits for cardiovascular health, skin health and even brain health.
Researchers tested how cocoa extracts could affect the activity of enzymes associated with the digestion of fat and carbohydrates, including pancreatic lipase, secreted phospholipase A2 and pancreatic alphaamlyase. Three types of cocoa were tested: a cocoa extract that underwent regular processing; an extract that underwent minimal processing that is high in flavanols; and an extract that underwent minimal processing that is low in flavanols.
The weight management category is as strong as ever, and science-based ingredients are a top priority for manufacturers and consumers.