The Mission to Reinvent Food


Last fall, the SATIN Report Summary was published by the University of Liverpool, one of the seven academic partners that joined with seven small and medium-size enterprises and four corporations in this large and multifaceted project. SATIN was designed to learn more about the biomarkers of satiety in the human body and to search for appetite-reducing substances.

As we saw, the researchers had a head start, because previous work had identified 27 plant extracts known to have satiating properties. But as it turned out, only three of those were appropriate to the needs of the study.

Because people do not generally prefer to eat what is good for them, science feels compelled to change the structure of foods to speed up and enhance the satiety point, and thus reduce appetite. To achieve this, science resorts to “advanced forms of fermentation, vacuum technology, enzyme application, emulsification, ultra‐filtration, drying, sublimation and freezing, heat treatment, protein modification and encapsulation.”

The project’s first goal referenced the satiety cascade, a theoretical concept described by F. Bellisle for the bulletin of the British Nutrition Foundation. It describes “a series of behavioral and physiological events that occur following food intake and that inhibit further eating until the return of hunger signals”:

Satiety is a crucial element of the psycho‐physiological mechanisms that allow adequate energy regulation and bodyweight control. Functional foods can affect satiety by acting at various moments of the satiety cascade.

Functional foods are defined as potentially having a positive health benefit beyond the basic nutritional value available from the food itself. This is looked for when the food has been fortified, enhanced, or enriched — for instance, with one of those substances that seemed so plentiful at the beginning of the study.

Some of them did not make it through the steps of safety analysis, sensory evaluation and other consumer testing. Another phase examined how satiety-enhancing foods affect appetite, nutrient availability, energy intake, and body weight.

Results somewhat disappointing

The satiety factor had to be tested with live humans, in both the short term and the medium term, to determine whether any helpful effects would wear off. The academic partners also located previous research to demonstrate the long-term benefits of satiety-enhancing products.

The researchers ended up with six foods and drinks that were scrutinized for such qualities as texture building, flavor release, and nutrient bioavailability. An un-looked-for result turned out to be one of the most interesting:

Two studies were conducted using three diets enriched with three differing ingredients. While no effect was seen for main objectives in in vivo study outcomes (appetite, body weight, key biomarkers) the ingredients had very distinct effects on gut microbiota…

However desirable any molecules might be it is pointless to introduce them into a body that does not have the capacity to use them. Nutrient bioavailability is a big part of all this, and the inner bacteria have a say in that.

By the time the study reached a later stage there were not as many products as had been anticipated, so “the study was redesigned to examine three products with prior proven effects on appetite to be tested at three clinical centers.” The report said:

Of the original 6 products identified, four were selected to progress to clinical studies, reformulation was recommended for one product and one was withdrawn. To optimize clinical trial capacity, partners were encouraged to generate new products, leading to further activity under Task 3. Ultimately one reformulated product and two new products were developed.

One was a yogurt/pudding with a very short shelf life, and there was difficulty in procuring subjects for the intervention trial (in other words, in finding humans who would actually give it a chance) so the manufacturer had to supply a much greater quantity than was initially anticipated, which became a problem. Also, there was a tomato juice with a discouraging note:

[…] the project reached a point where it was illogical to further pursue preparations for the trial designed to examine the medium term impact of the tomato juice product. Activity was refocused on the examination of the acute impact of tomato juice using the limited existing stocks.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “SATIN Report Summary,”, 07/25/17
Source: “Functional foods and the satiety cascade,”, 02/13/08
Photo credit: Wilson Hui on Visualhunt/CC BY

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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