Brighton, UK—When you look at a drink, does the texture or creaminess influence how full it will make you? Some people believe yes. Keri McCrickerd, researcher at the University of Sussex, says, “Hunger and fullness are complicated issues because it is not just the calories in a food or drink that make it filling. Signals from the stomach are important but so too is how the drink feels in the mouth.” Published in Biomed Central’s journal, Flavour, McCrickerd and colleagues tested whether the texture and creaminess of a yogurt drink affects our perceptions on fullness and satiety.
They first tested whether adding a thickening agent, like tara gum, to a yogurt drink will changed the expectations of a person’s satiety and fullness towards that item. When participants consumed a regular yogurt drink versus the thickened one with the same amount of calories, they were able to distinguish which one was thicker, even though the flavors remained the same.
Next, they asked participants to rate how filling the drink would be by selecting an equivalently filling portion of pasta. Overall, they expected the thick and creamy drinks to be more filling than the thin and non-creamy versions. Also, the more enhanced the creaminess was, the more filling they rated it. In the long run, however, thickness, not creaminess, caused expectations for suppressing hunger longer.
This study shows that consumers are very sensitive to the oral textures of drinks. McCrickerd says that perhaps we associate thicker food items with being full, and that this information is useful for the manipulation of food items. Overall, we can change the texture of items without affecting the total calories, and still produce satisfying food options. This technique may prove to be useful in designing functional foods for weight loss.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, February 2012 (online 12/17/12)