Though the impact on energy intake of reducing energy density is well known, there is less scientific evidence on how changes in texture can lead to reductions in eating rate. Through mathematical modelling and a human intervention trial, "RESTRUCTURE: Developing and implementing innovative and evidence-based food design principles to moderate energy intake " will unravel the links between physical properties like food texture, the speed of eating and energy intake. By demonstrating some of the causal mechanisms by which these properties may be responsible for overeating, the project results will be used to inform food design rules and tools to guide the development of foods that help limit food intake and prevent overweight and obesity
The RESTRUCTURE project is a 5-year research programme co-financed by TKI Agri & Food, a Dutch funding scheme for public-private partnerships. This project contributes to the Dutch government’s mission to guide consumers to make healthy food choices (Mission D, MMIP D2, TKI) and increase the supply of healthier foods by the food industry, by implementing additional design principles based on texture and eating rate.
Overweight and obesity are
among the most urgent nutrition related problems in the world affecting more
than 2 billion people. Eating more calories than the body needs can lead to
weight gain over time. To prevent us from overeating, we start to feel full at
some point during a meal. But the moment at which we start to feel full
does not only depend on the number of calories that have been eaten. It also
depends on the type of food that we eat.
Recent advances in science suggest that the texture of food plays an important role in how satiated (how ‘full’) we feel during and after eating. Some foods require less bites or chewing and are therefore faster to eat. Scientists think that this speed of eating has a large influence on the extent to which we feel full, which in turn determines how much we eat during a meal. For example, the image below shows that the same amount of grapes is consumed 12 times faster when squeezed into a juice compared to when eaten as whole grapes. When eating the whole grapes, someone will most likely feel full far before finishing the entire portion of 1 kilogram. This shows that the type of food and the speed of eating may influence how much we consume of the food.
If this holds true, food producers can develop food products
in such a way that the food is consumed slower and people feel full quicker.
This may help us to eat fewer calories throughout the day and may help prevent
the development of overweight and obesity.