Glanbia Nutritional Products is hoping to build on growing consumer awareness of the link between dairy foods and weight loss, with a new ingredient specifically designed to add the beneficial components of milk products to other foods.
The company, one of many at last week's SupplySide East targeting America's huge, weight loss category, says it has combined three different components - calcium, whey protein and bioactive whey peptides - to create its patent-pending Prolibra Whey Mineral Protein.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 42 participants confirmed the effect of supplementing the diet with Prolibra. The study subjects were asked to reduce their caloric intake to between 600-700 calories for the study yet most failed to do so. However those taking Prolibra still managed to reduce body fat by 6 per cent over a 16-week period, according to the firm.
Kevin Thomson, technical sales manager at the firm, told NutraIngredientsUSA.com that this made the findings all the more exciting.
"We ended up with people on their normal diet reducing body fat. This means that the product worked, independently of a low-calorie regime."
The Prolibra group also lost more fat as a proportion of weight loss, supporting the claim that the ingredient helps maintain lean body mass while reducing fat. This fat reduction is expected to add further benefits to the consumer than mere weight loss. Companies marketing conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) for weight loss make a similar claim.
The study on Prolibra may be small, but each of the product's components has been well-studied, according to Thomson.
Unlike herbals and stimulants marketed for weight loss, dairy has a 'clean' image, and is already being promoted by the US dairy industry for its high calcium levels, linked in a growing body of studies to lower risk of overweight.
While the mechanism behind this effect is still not known, continuing research could offer significant 'added value' to dairy ingredients, especially as governments begin to tackle rapidly rising numbers of obese.
Prolibra could be added to foods not naturally high in calcium or dairy proteins, such as beverages, bars or baked goods.
Glanbia is currently investing significantly in products with health benefits. The new ingredient has been developed at the firm's R&D centre in the US. It also announced earlier this year plans for a €15 million innovation centre to develop functional foods and health ingredients in Ireland.
The Ireland-headquartered company has also recently added a heat stable whey protein isolate, Thermax 690, responding to increasing demand for high-protein drinks. The ingredient is stable in low-acid aseptic and retort beverages at protein concentrations of 10 per cent or more.
Other products include whey proteins designed to optimize sports performance and boost the immune system helping post-training recovery.