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According to a 2008 consumer study conducted by The NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y., for Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), Rosemont, Ill., 67% of respondents said that feeling full is important to them when trying to lose weight. Interestingly, 72% agreed that the best way to control hunger is through a nutritionally balanced diet, with 60% believing that satisfaction from high-carbohydrate foods is short lived and 54% agreeing that protein-based foods are the best at satisfying hunger.

Most consumers know the simple formula for weight management: calories in (eating) equal calories out (burning). Unfortunately, too often consumers are challenged with maintaining this equation because feelings of hunger arrive at inconvenient times.

An increasing number of today’s most popular weight management products contain either satiety-inducing or appetite-suppressing ingredients. Controlling appetite by promoting satiety, the feeling of being full, is a valuable approach to weight management. What scientists have learned is that satiety has little to do with satisfying the body’s nutritional requirements. It’s all about gastrointestinal hormones.

Ghrelin is believed to be the primary hunger hormone, with levels increasing before meals and decreasing after meals. In the brain’s hypothalamus, ghrelin binds to receptors related to metabolism, while also binding to receptors in the midbrain that link to reward and pleasurable food associations. Interestingly, lack of sleep can impact appetite and weight gain as a result of ghrelin, as levels increase due to short-sleep duration, thereby increasing appetite.

There are several other hormones recognized with controlling hunger and eating. For example, the peptide cholecystokinin (CCK) helps the digestion of fats and protein in the small intestine. This neurotransmitter connects with CCK receptors in the central nervous system, where it influences reactions such as anxiety and nausea, as well as feelings of satiety and hunger. Glucagon-like peptide-1 and peptide YY are known for sending a message of fullness to both the brain and stomach. This slows the movement of food in the gut, thereby ensuring maximum digestion of nutrients and deceased appetite.

Ingredient suppliers offer an array of ingredients shown to assist with decreasing appetite, some of which accomplish this by influencing hormone activity. Others function by providing substantial bulk in the gastrointestinal system for prolonged periods, which also creates a feeling of fullness.

Dairy foods, naturally a source of high-quality proteins, which alone have been shown to reduce appetite, are the ideal delivery vehicle for many of these ingredients.