Food-Altering Technology Should Play Role in Fighting Fat

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New York, NY -- March 13, 2009. Modern food technology provides numerous means of lowering the calories in foods while preserving flavor, according to a new report -- Obesity and Food Technology -- by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH).

Food technology has been invaluable in solving public health problems in the past. For example, iodinating salt virtually eliminated mental retardation due to iodine deficiencies, and pasteurizing milk greatly reduced deaths from diarrheal diseases in infants and young children. Food technology can be useful in fighting the “battle of the bulge” as well. But it is rarely mentioned in strategies to combat obesity. Instead, the high priority strategies have focused on punitive regulatory measures such as banning food advertising, putting "fat taxes" on foods and beverages, or restricting access to fast food restaurants

Substituting high-intensity, calorie-free sweeteners for sugars in foods and beverages is a familiar method of decreasing calorie counts, and newer approaches also help create reduced-calorie foods. Fat substitutes and replacers, the addition of fiber, new production methods, and the use of biotechnology all can be employed for this purpose. Some examples of such foods include lower-calorie ice cream, hot dogs, salad dressings, and snack chips.

Other examples are bioengineered potatoes that absorb little oil when fried and modern cooking appliances such as the new spin fryer, which allows consumers to deep fry a variety of foods and then turn on a built-in “spin cycle" that spins the fat off the food -- substantially reducing the calories in the fried food. The addition of fiber and novel fat emulsions may also beneficially affect blood levels of appetite-suppressing hormones.

“There are so many of these reduced-calorie foods in the marketplace now,” explains ACSH president Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “They certainly can help people who want to cut calories without giving up their favorite foods.”

Obesity and Food Technology explores these various food technologies and numerous foods currently in the marketplace that employ one or more of them.

“These technologies can provide important assistance to people who want to lose weight or maintain a loss,” noted Dr. Ruth Kava, ACSH nutrition director. “It’s important, though, that people use them appropriately -- these are reduced calorie foods, not zero-calorie foods,” she warned.

The American Council on Science and Health is a public health, consumer-education consortium of over 300 scientists and physicians. Its other recent publications have included Obesity and Its Health Effects and Obesity and New Pharmaceutical Approaches.


Dr. Ruth Kava, ACSH Nutrition Director: kavaR[at] (212-362-7044)
Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, ACSH President: whelanE[at] (212-362-7044)