Today around 40% of all adults are overweight or obese and every single nation on Earth is getting fatter. Obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, are soaring on a trajectory that will cripple many health services. Most troublingly, there have been no success stories in the past 33 years – not one country has been able to halt the growth of the bulge. Processed, calorie-dense foods continue to become more widely available worldwide and, short of an international catastrophe like a global famine or mass outbreak of war, turning the tide is going to take some truly innovative thinking.
A short-term solution is to re-engineer calorific ‘junk’ food to have less fat, sugar, salt, and fewer calories, while still giving the same satisfaction. There are artificial sweeteners, but they can have unpleasant side effects and can’t be cooked as sugar can. Low-calorie sugar substitutes, such as sugar-alcohols like sorbitol, taste like the real thing but cause flatulence and diarrhea if eaten excessively. But food technologists have managed to coat inert mineral particles with sugar, increasing the surface area that contacts the tongue, so that less sugar can be used to provide the same sweetness.