Six Innovations to Bend the Curve on Obesity

Diverse experts are pointing out that it will take a broad range of innovations to bend the curve on obesity. The creativity and diversity of thinking is refreshing in a series of interviews assembled by the Institute of Food Technologists.

  1. Louis Aronne proposes that a dramatic increase in treatment options for obesity could make obesity as manageable as diabetes is today. He suggests that instead of just 6 drugs to treat obesity, we need more like 100 different drugs in 10 different classes to meet the challenge.
  2. Julian Mercer is searching for innovations in food technology that can have the effect of helping people feel full and be well nourished with less food. He is leading the Eurpean Full4Health project that is probing the role of food in satiety through the interactions of the food we eat with our guts and our brains. It is this food-gut-brain interaction that determines whether we feel full, hungry, or ravenous.
  3. Hank Cardello suggests that the foods that people crave can be improved to make them “better for you” without compromising their consumer appeal. He believes that it will be critical “to really drill down on what makes the most popular foods more filling.”
  4. Walmir Coutinho says that for obesity in developing countries the “path to the solution of this problem needs to involve transnational and multinational organizations; big companies; federal, state and municipal governments; and legislative and judicial powers. And each one of these entities that I mentioned has methods that could effectively contribute to the solution of the problem of obesity.”
  5. Barry Popkin calls for fighting obesity on a grand scale, saying that “We need to find a way to move people away from very refined carbohydrate diets, and toward whole grains and fruits and vegetables and healthy unsaturated fats. It’s up to retailers and food manufacturers to start pushing and promoting healthier-for-you products. They are doing it now for upper-income families in the United States and the United Kingdom, because those consumers are demanding changes, but it also needs to happen in the lower- and middle-income world.
  6. Brain Wansink believes that fine-tuning the environments where we work, play, shop, and eat, we can mindlessly develop healthier patterns of eating and living. “I think there’s going to be more of a focus on this notion of slim by design, where you’ve got sort of a win-win solution—solutions that are going to make companies more money, but also make people eat less.”

The creativity is welcome. What remains is to translate the concepts into applications and proven results.

Click here for information from the interview series from IFT. Click on each of the names above for each of the interviews. Aronne’s interview is in the form of an audio file, but you can also find a link on that page to a full transcript.

Spices!! Photograph © peddhapati / flickr

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