‘How we can become satiated on good foods – in other words, eat less and feel less hungry – has become the big question,’ says obesity specialist Dr Alex Johnstone, of the Rowett Institute for Nutrition and Health in Aberdeen.
And where the scientists tread, food and supplement manufacturers soon follow.
Britons spent £45 million last year on ‘satiety’ products designed to fill your gut and quell your appetite.
One of the first retailers on the satiety bandwagon was M&S, which early this year launched the Feel Fuller For Longer range based on Dr Johnstone’s work. The meals are high in protein, which is filling, but not high in calories.
‘It’s one of our most popular launches because it’s an easy way to plug the hunger pangs that usually lead to diets failing,’ says M&S nutritionist Claire Hughes.
But everyday foods can plug the gap just as well; as shown by research from San Diego University’s School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, which compared the feelings of fullness generated by eating plums and biscuits – and the plums, surprisingly, won hands down.
Two hours after eating, the volunteers given the plums felt less hungry and had less of the ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin in their blood when tested.
Interestingly, taking commercial appetite suppressants may not work as well as the right foods.