Related links

Share this page:
Other services (opens in new window)
Sets a cookie

Fat to make you feel fuller

Visit  Institute of Food Research website

2 June 2009

Scientists have designed a fatty formulation that can make you feel fuller for longer.

When the fat remains stable in the acid environment of the stomach, it empties into the small intestine more slowly and increases satiety.

"This formulation could be used as an ingredient in new foods to make them more filling, which in turn could help reduce overconsumption of calories," said Dr Martin Wickham from the Institute of Food Research.

The findings mean it is possible to produce two meals with the same fat content but different satiety effects. So if you're going to eat fat, it is possible for that fat to be present in a way that makes you feel fuller. The satiating effect lasts for 12 hours after the initial meal.

The most common form of fat in processed foods is an emulsion of finely dispersed oil droplets. If these oil droplets are engineered to remain stable during digestion, this alters the gut hormones that are produced in response to food. These hormones are the signal produced by the gut to the brain to reduce the desire to eat.

Volunteers were fed a fatty test meal comparable in volume to a large conventional meal. The volunteers’ stomachs were imaged in real time until they looked empty. Scientists from the University of Nottingham used an ultra-fast type of MRI scanning called echo-planar imaging.

The unstable emulsion quickly separated into water and fat and the droplets coalesced. The volume of the meal in the stomach emptied rapidly. The watery part of the meal emptied into the small intestine first, followed by the floating fatty layer. After one hour the volume was nearly half that of the stable meal.

The volunteers’ sense of fullness, appetite and hunger was monitored at hourly intervals for twelve hours. The stable emulsion meal made subjects feel fuller, less hungry and have less appetite compared to the unstable meal.

Blood samples were also taken and showed a higher concentration of fatty particles following the stable meal.

"Our research proves it is possible to design oil-in-water emulsions with different behaviours in the gut to influence gastrointestinal physiology and, ultimately, satiety," said Dr Luca Marciani from the University of Nottingham.

The study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The Institute of Food Research is an institute of the BBSRC.


About the Institute of Food Research

The mission of the Institute of Food Research ( is to undertake international quality scientific research relevant to food and human health and to work in partnership with others to provide underpinning science for consumers, policy makers, the food industry and academia. It is a company limited by guarantee, with charitable status, grant aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.

External contact

Zoe Dunford, IFR Press Office

tel: 01603 255111

Andrew Chapple, IFR Press Office

tel: 01603 251490


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382