FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Food Additive May Slow Fat Absorption

Fast food lovers may be able to have their fries and eat them too, if experiments with a modified food additive continue to be encouraging.

Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (don't try to pronounce it, just call it HPMC) is commonly used as a food additive to modify texture. However, increasing the levels of HPMC in highly fatty foods appears to help prevent insulin resistance -- a condition that's often a precursor to diabetes. By extension, the additive chould also help reduce levels of obesity that come from eating foods laden with fat. So far, studies indicate that five grams of HPMC per serving are required to produce the beneficial effect.

Researchers don't yet know why HPMC slows down fat absorption. They also caution that, even if their studies continue to show positive results, HPMC won't be a green light to super-size. "Obviously, the less fat you eat, the better off you are," says Wallace H. Yokoyama of the USDA, who is coordinating one of the studies. "But if you're going to eat high-fat foods, then adding HPMC to it might help limit the damage." Fat absorption is slowed, after all, and not blocked... and this isn't to say anything about calories.

Source: Scientific American