“Light products” may help people lose weight, but often lack the capacity to give proper feelings of fullness. Therefore, British researchers studied how the “filling capacity” of low calorie products can be improved.
In the first experiment, they added a thickening agent (tara gum) to a yogurt drink to see whether or not it increased the sensation of thickness, stickiness and creaminess, and explored how the drink affected the participants’ expectations of fullness and satiety.
The results showed that the participants were able to accurately pick up subtle differences in drink texture even though the taste remained the same.
In a second experiment, the participants rated how filling they expected a yoghurt drink to be by selecting a portion of pasta that they thought would have the same effect on their hunger. The subjects evaluated 8 versions of the yogurt drink, consisting of high and low calorie versions in four sensory contexts: low sensory, creamy, thick, high sensory (thick and creamy).
The researchers found that both the thick drinks and the creamy drinks were expected to be more filling than the low sensory versions. High sensory drinks further increased expected fullness. However, their contributions to expected satiety were not equal, only thickness (and not creaminess) had an effect on the expectation that a drink would suppress hunger over time.
Keri McCrickerd, who led this study, explained, “Hunger and fullness are complicated issues because it is not just the calories in a food or drink that make it filling. Signals from the stomach are important but so too is how the drink feels in the mouth. In our study both creamy flavor and texture affected expected fullness, but only thickness seemed to affect whether hunger was expected to be satisfied. This may be because thick texture is a characteristic of food that we associate with being full. Consumer expectations are important and our study shows that consumers are sensitive to subtle changes in oral sensory characteristics of a drink, and that thick texture and creamy flavor can be manipulated to enhance expectations of fullness and satiety regardless of calories.”
McCrickerd, K., Chambers, L., Brunstrom, J., & Yeomans, M. (2012). Subtle changes in the flavour and texture of a drink enhance expectations of satiety Flavour, 1 (1) DOI: 10.1186/2044-7248-1-20