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Food Technology: Opportunities to Address Obesity Prevention

Issue January 2011

On November 2-3, 2010 the Food Forum of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board, along with University of Massachusetts Amherst Food Science Policy Alliance, held a workshop titled “Leveraging Food Technology for Obesity Prevention and Reduction Efforts.” The meeting was an opportunity for those representing nutrition societies, academia, government, and the food industry to provide insights on how to reduce obesity by leveraging existing and new technologies. While many consumers are aware of product reformulations that have reduced sodium, fat, or sugar contents of foods and beverages, new technologies also are being explored to reduce the amount of calories in foods and beverages to help Americans manage their weight.
In the coming years more focus will be put on calorie reduction as many food and beverage manufacturers have pledged, through the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, to reduce annual calories in foods by 1.5 trillion by the end of 2015, and sustain that level. Manufacturers plan to reach this goal by developing and introducing lower-calorie options for existing products, changing recipes to reduce the calorie content of current products through the use of flavors, ingredients, and spices to substitute for higher calorie components in food, or additional reduced-calorie portion sizes of popular foods or beverages.

Food technology can be used in food production to help improve the health of Americans and reduce the calorie content of food. However, solving the obesity epidemic is a complex problem, and there is no single solution. Therefore, it is important for the food industry, government, health professionals, and individuals to find the best combination of healthful foods and physical activity to improve Americans’ health.

For more insights on how food technology can facilitate obesity reduction efforts, check the IOM website for a summary of the workshop coming soon.

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