The sweetness of stevia : a step towards tackling obesity
(Posted on 16/05/16)
As highlighted recently by the government and media, excessive sugar intake can seriously affect consumer health. With strong links to obesity, tooth decay and diabetes, the food industry is beginning to look for sugar alternatives to align with changing regulations and consumer needs.
According to Public Health England almost 25% of adults, 10% of 4-5-year-olds and 19% of 10-11 year olds in England are obese, with significant numbers also classed as overweight. Obesity costs the NHS £5bn every year and The McKinsey Group recently estimated that the total annual economic cost of obesity is £47 billion in the UK.
Consumers’ daily lives are becoming more fast-paced and food intake and diet has change accordingly, making food more readily available and convenient than ever before. The downside to this lifestyle however, is often over consumption and an increased intake of sugars and salts - typically plentiful in ready meals and fast food.
The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has concluded that the recommended average maximum intake of sugar should be halved to not exceed 5% of total dietary energy. Currently, the figure stands at between 12% and 15% of our daily dietary energy.
Calorific sugar is one of the main causes of obesity. Replacing sugars with sweeteners can significantly reduce calorie intake whilst maintaining palatability. Complexity arises here though because sugar does not solely provide the sweet taste enhancement; it can also aid in the preservation and fermentation of a product, as well as enhancing the viscosity and structure. A sole sweetener cannot provide these qualities, but ERYLITE® and ERYLITE® Stevia, distributed by Cornelius, has solved this challenge.
To date, stevia has been featured in soft drinks such as Coca-Cola Life, Vitamin Water Zero and Tropicana Trop50. As well as its use in high profile brands, stevia has also benefited from its plant-based origins, which means it is a less artificial ingredient than sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose.
Popularity of the sugar replacement is growing due increased awareness of its natural and zero-calorie status. ERYLITE® Stevia contains 0.2 kcal/g, compared to sucrose that has a much higher calorific content, almost 4 kcal/g, as well as providing body and texture, which other sweeteners do not offer.
The natural status of ERYLITE® stems from its more natural production process, which does not require the use of enzymes, catalysts or chemical modification. The polyols used are generally found in certain fruits but industrially they are produced chemically by catalytic hydrogenation. ERYLITE® is the exception as it is produced by a natural process, namely yeast fermentation.
What’s more, due to having a zero glycaemic index, ERYLITE® does not raise plasma glucose or insulin levels meaning it is ideal for diabetics whilst also reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.
Dental problems are also a significant problem associated with sugar intake. In fact, dental caries is the most widespread nutrition-related disease. ERYLITE however is a ‘tooth-friend’ and caristatic agent, as the streptococcus species is unable to grow on teeth and cannot produce polymeric plaque material. Consequently, ERLYITE® contributes to a neutral pH and protects the teeth from caries.
With health concerns among consumers ever growing, Cornelius predicts sweet success for stevia in the years to come.