Tuesday, February 05, 2008
A pill is being created to let hamburger-and-chips lovers eat their favourite fatty foods without putting on too much weight.
It could reduce the need to eat large amounts of vegetables with a meal, would be cheap to buy and could be on sale in Britain within a year.
Its creator Dr Joseph Kanner said: "A lentil burger doesn't always have the same appeal as a beefburger - this pill will allow you to eat more of your favourite foods without becoming as fat as you would without it. Ideally, we should eat fruit and vegetables all the time - but it is a shame not to indulge in our favourite foods when we want to."
As a side-effect, the pill will cut the risk of developing cancer by mopping up free radicals, the substances that damage body cells. The pill contains polyphenol chemicals, which Dr Kanner has shown reduce the amount of fat absorbed into the blood.
The chemicals were known to cut the risk of heart attack - but until now it has not been established why. Dr Kanner's research proves for the first time that they can help with weight control and prevent fats clogging arteries.
Dr Kanner, a food-science researcher for the Israeli government, found that if polyphenols are taken with a meal, some of the fats eaten are not absorbed into the blood but discarded as waste.
Polyphenols are also found in red wine, fruit and vegetables, and Dr Kanner said: "Some people already take enough with their food to reduce their fat uptake. However, others need help to get their fill. This pill would allow us to indulge in something that would normally be bad for us."
Dr Kanner added that his pill would be cheap and its effects immediate. He is now working with a manufacturer to produce it.
A British Nutrition Foundation spokeswoman admitted "it could stop people putting on too much weight" but added: "We would not want to see such people give up fruit and vegetables totally."
Dr Kanner admitted his pill would not reduce all fats but would limit oxidised fats being absorbed. Oxidised fats, which are particularly damaging to our bodies, are found in all meats.
Dr Kanner's research is published in this month's journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, whose editor-in-chief Gerald Weissmann said: "As long as deep-fried candy bars are on menus, scientists will need to keep serving up new ways to prevent the damage caused by these tasty treats. This study suggests that the time will come soon where people can eat their French fries without plugging their arteries full of fat."
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