Leveraging Food Technology for Obesity Prevention and Reduction Efforts - Workshop Summary


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We make over 200 food-related decisions each day, and our complex eating behaviors  have multiple layers of influence. Eating is affected by the physiological responses that occur when we are in the presence of food as well as societal norms and values around portion size and eating behaviors. With more than one-third of the U.S. adult population considered obese, behavioral scientists have emphasized building an evidence base for understanding what drives the energy imbalance – particularly with regard to portion size, energy density, and satiety – in overweight and obese individuals. Food scientists have been using this evidence base to improve existing technologies and create new technologies that can enhance the healthfulness of the food supply. For example, scientists have created fat- and sugar-reducing technologies, multiple baking technologies, and fat replacement technologies through the incorporation of fiber to reduce the energy density of foods. Other technologies, such as portion-controlled frozen meals or snacks and  technologies that increase fruit and vegetable intake, also have been developed in an effort to reduce and prevent obesity.

The IOM’s Food Forum held a public workshop November 2 -3, 2010, in Washington, DC, to examine the complexity of human eating behavior and explore ways in which the food industry can continue to leverage modern and innovative food processing technologies to influence energy intake as one method to reduce and prevent obesity. Speakers discussed the associations between certain eating behaviors and weight gain as well as the opportunities and challenges of altering the food in homes and restaurants in order to reduce overeating. This document summarizes the workshop.