Consumers hungry for weight loss and an industry craving for innovation: quo vadis?
Global microbiome modulation market leader OptiBiotix CEO, Stephen O’Hara, has shared his unique insight into why injectable drugs that reduce hunger and cravings – and seen as the next step in weight management – should only be used as part of a medically supervised treatment package, rather than available to the wider public.
O’Hara, a trained microbiologist with more than 50 publications and 100-plus patents to his name, commented: “Recent reports in national media have suggested that there has been overwhelming demand in the last few months for the injectable drug, semaglutide, which is squeezing supplies for patients after its approval by NICE. Consumers are hungry for weight loss solutions that demonstrate efficacy and that are safe and effective - but injectable drugs are not intended for the wider public.”
The drug, injected once a week, is a glucagon-like peptide (GLP) inhibitor and works by reducing hunger and cravings. It is licensed to be used for morbidly obese adults with a BMI of at least 35 kg/m2 and at least one weight related comorbidity. Sales are forecast to reach $13.4 billion globally by 2027.
O’Hara believes injectable drugs will open up a new paradigm in the weight management market by helping users to reduce hunger and food cravings, but the side-effects could be unsettling to consumers.
He continued: “Those in the industry know there is no silver or magic bullet to weight loss. With injectable drugs, medical professionals have reported that muscle loss or wastage is a side effect that should not be ignored, advising those on the treatment to increase their protein intake and to exercise regularly to preserve muscle mass."
"So, while they have shown promising results for those morbidly obese, most people are not in that category and want a less invasive and user-friendly approach to weight loss. Most importantly, consumers want and require solutions that offer few or no reported side effects and help them retain muscle through their weight loss journey."
O’Hara says there are other alternative solutions on the market, many of which have been shown in clinical studies to work in the same way by reducing hunger and food cravings.
One of those solutions is the multiple-award-winning SlimBiome, a patented functional ingredient used in multiple clinical studies and developed by leading UK scientists, such as Professor Jason Halford – a world expert on obesity, eating behaviour, and appetite control, and current President of the European Association for the Study of Obesity.
SlimBiome is a mineral enriched prebiotic fibre complex that gently expands in the stomach to make consumers feel fuller for longer.
Studies have shown that when prebiotic fibres are consumed it can modify the microbiome to increase the number of microbes associated with a lean body shape. In addition, the functional ingredient also incorporates chromium, a trace mineral, which helps to manage blood glucose levels, reducing cravings.
“SlimBiome has been shown in a number of clinical studies published in peer reviewed journals to reduce hunger and food cravings,” continued O’Hara. “One double-blind, placebo-controlled study, carried out by Oxford Brookes University, showed SlimBiome reduced hunger by 10%, food cravings by 11%, and the amount of food intake by 49%.
“A second study by the University of Roehampton demonstrated a 21% reduction in food cravings and a 26% improvement in mood. The study also showed that 90% of volunteers lost weight and reduced their body fat, while all volunteers benefited from a reduction in hip and waist circumference."
"In comparison to injectable drugs, SlimBiome reported no side-effects in either study and helps sustain weight loss – a result confirmed by consumer studies and customer product reviews from many of its global customers."
“At ProBiota 2023 this year, the OptiBiotix team presented another study, which is currently awaiting publication. The study subjected 20 volunteers to 50 g of sugar with and without SlimBiome. It showed that the presence of the ingredient reduced the insulin response by 15.8%, with statistically significant reductions in hunger and the desire to eat.”
As an ingredient, SlimBiome can be used either by itself or through its incorporation into food or snack products. Having won numerous international awards for the company, it is currently being used as an ingredient by several, well-respected commercial partners.
Holland & Barrett through SlimExpert in the UK, and Optipharm through Optislim, a leading weight management brand in Australia, and in The Hut Group’s Lean Impact MyProtein sports range. In Asia, SlimBiome is also being used by leading national providers of pharmaceutical and over the counter products by Apollo Hospitals in India, and Nahdi Medical in Saudi Arabia.
O’Hara concluded: “SlimBiome helps consumers to help themselves. This is in contrast to existing products which often lack strong scientific rationale and typically rely on consumers’ self-control to restrict calories – and as a consequence have a higher rate of failure."
"This new approach to weight loss, which can be used to support any diet and has now been given greater prominence by approval of drugs like semaglutide, suggests that hunger-free dieting is now a consumer choice."
“Consumer feedback has shown that SlimBiome has demonstrated an average weight loss of 1.2 kg per week, while our studies show that the solution can help retain muscle, while losing body fat."
Unlike injectable drugs, it doesn’t require a needle to administer the product, nor does it contain any ingredients like fat binders, which can cause stomach issues and diarrhoea. Not only is this solution safe and effective, but it has also proven that it can deliver results in the first month of use.”