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Health & Wellness: 3 tips to create products that shrink waistlines

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The sales of better-for-you (BFY) products by 15 major food and beverage companies in the US drove more than 70% of sales growth from 2007 to 2011, according to a report by the Hudson Institute with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In the study, BFY products were defined as no-, low- and reduced-calorie items, such as flavored waters and diet sodas.

They also include products that generally are perceived to be healthier, such as yogurts and wholegrain cereals.

More retailers are also making space to accommodate these products, and this “real estate” is gaining prominence in terms of visibility and size.

This indicates that consumers are responding positively to functional, BFY food and beverages, as healthier, lower calorie versions of products such as full fat, high sugar and salt crisps, baked goods and jams fill the shelves.

Not to be left out in the cold, you can consider incorporating these three tips when you develop products that go easy on the weighing scale.

3D modeling intelligence

Data from a three-dimensional mastication modeling software can help you understand how a piece of full fat chocolate is consumed in the mouth.

Such data (control) could provide you with insight on an ideal, consumer-accepted mouthfeel.

Next, test your formulated product (that is similar to a piece of chocolate) with reduced amounts of sugar, salt, fat or starch with the software; compare these results with those of the control.

After seeing how your product fares against the control, make adjustments to the formulation to close the gap.

One such 3D mastication modeling was demonstrated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Melbourne, Australia on April 15, 2014.

CSIRO biomechanical engineer and computer modeller, Dr Simon Harrison modelled a caramel filled Easter Egg to see what happens when the 3D virtual mouth takes a bite.

“Using a technique called smooth particle hydrodynamics, we’ve developed a virtual mouth built on real data about the physics of chewing. It predicts how a particular food breaks down and how flavor is released in the mouth.”

Increase density of food, beverages to encourage chewing

Of the numerous weight loss strategies available to consumers, the act of chewing food thoroughly is said to help one feel full faster while ingesting fewer calories.

This prevents people from wolfing down their food in great quantities, often mindlessly.

According to a study by a team of Japanese researchers on 454 female Japanese dietetic students aged 18–22 years, it was found that students who ate hard foods such as raw carrots and broccoli from February to March 2006 reported smaller waistlines.

“Whereas no association between dietary hardness and body mass index (BMI) was seen, increasing dietary hardness was associated with lower waist circumference even after adjustment for BMI in free-living young Japanese women,” concluded the study, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007.

Be inspired to create high density; fibrous products that require much chewing to appeal to consumers who are looking shrink their waistlines.

They could be food bars for on-the-go consumers containing dried fruit (sweet treats) or savory nuts and dried meat jerky (salty snacks) and grains such as millet, unpolished rice and barley to get consumers chewing their way to a smaller waistline.

Packaging

Food labels have been a boom for functional products as they provide information such as calories, serving size, nutritional value and ingredients used to consumers.

Manufacturers have also created portion controlled, single serve packs in creative packaging shapes to drive home the point of them encouraging weight loss.

Besides packing low-calorie products like the way the full calorie versions are done, such as a can of tuna in mayonnaise, consider packing the low-fat version in a contoured, body shape-like flexible, retort package with a resalable closure.

On the packaging, offer information on low-calorie add-ons such as mixing a cup of raw, chopped carrots or celery into the bag for a convenient meal or quick snack.

This way, you have:

  • introduced a fun way to consuming your product,
  • gave consumers an option to “up size” their meals sans the calories,
  • empowered them to lose weight by taking out the guesswork in counting the calories and portions for them, and
  • provided a packaging model to replicate in other products such as beans, grains, meat and breakfast cereals.

The opportunities for innovation are endless.

Be inspired to make the change and improve your bottom-line by experimenting on new ways of reaching out to your weight-conscious consumers.