Obesity: Leading health concerns for both adults and children

High Risk for Diabetes are: African-American, American-Indian,
Asian-American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic/Latino.

Obesity is one of today’s leading health concerns for both adults and children. It is responsible for at least 100,000 deaths per year in the United States, placing it second only to cigarette smoking as an underlying cause of death.

Obesity increases the risk of multiple health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, several types of cancer, stroke, liver disease, osteoarthritis, chronic kidney disease, some gastrointestinal disorders, sleep apnea, asthma, and reproductive problems.

The use of food technology to solve public health problems has a long and impressive history. Three important examples are the pasteurization of milk, the fortification of foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies, and the use of irradiation to enhance microbiological safety and to kill pests in foods.

Research has shown that foods that are low in energy density (calories per unit weight) can be helpful in weight control by providing fewer calories without making people feel deprived or unsatisfied. The use of reduced portion sizes can also be helpful.

Although innovations from food technology have contributed to the increased availability of abundant and tasty foods (that makes over consumption of food easier), the food industry is not the cause of obesity and its creativity may contribute to solving the obesity problem.

In conjunction with dietary change, increased physical activity, behavioral changes, and education, food technology can contribute in the fight against obesity by providing consumers with an increased variety of tasty, appealing foods that are lower in energy density and/or portion size than standard products.

Technological innovations that may be used in the creation of lower-energy-density and/or controlled-portion-size products include sugar substitutes, fat replacers, addition of fiber, use of chemical additives produced by biotechnology, new production methods, and different food packaging strategies.

Designing foods that promote satiety or suppress appetite are active areas of research.

For example, insulin-type fructans, added to foods, have been shown to affect blood levels of appetite signaling hormones thereby helping to suppress appetite.

Some novel fat emulsions and types of dietary fiber induce a feeling of fullness and may reduce food consumption.

Many food products with reduced energy density or controlled portion size are already being marketed successfully.

Whether additional, newer products of these types will be commercially successful depends on several factors, including economic issues, government regulations, and the knowledge and attitudes of the public, the food industry, and health professionals.

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All material herein is provided for information only and may not be construed as personal medical advice. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The FDA has not evaluated these statements. None of the information or products discussed on this site are intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate or cure any disease.

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