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Seaweed tackles obesity
Written by Pepe Michaels-Uk-Med Staff Reporter   

Scientists at Newcastle University believe that seaweed fibre can cut the absorption of fats by the body by around 75%.

Seaweed could help with weight loss

The research team, led by Dr Iain Brownlee and Prof Jeff Pearson, found that dietary fibre in one of the world’s largest commercially used seaweed, Alginate – a natural fibre found in sea kelp – stops the body from absorbing fat better than most weight-loss treatments currently available on prescription or over the counter.

The initial tests were carried out using an artificial gut. 60 different natural fibres were then tested by measuring the amount of fat that was absorbed on digestion of each fibre.

They have already added the Alginate to bread and reports suggest that taste tests have been encouraging. Clinical trials to show how effective this is when eaten as part of a normal diet seem to be on the horizon.

"The aim of this study was to put these products to the test and our initial findings are that alginates significantly reduce fat digestion," commented Brownlee.

"This suggests that if we can add the natural fibre to products commonly eaten daily - such as bread, biscuits and yoghurts – up to three quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body.

The research is part of a three-year long project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. It addresses new European regulations that insist on scientific evidence backing any health claims made on a food label.

"There are countless claims about miracle cures for weight loss but only a few cases offer any sound scientific evidence to back up these claims," said Dr Brownlee.

"Obesity is an ever-growing problem and many people find it difficult to stick to diet and exercise plans in order to lose weight. Alginates not only have great potential for weight management - adding them to food also has the added advantage of boosting overall fibre content."

The only current prescription treatment for weight-loss is Xenical


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