Proof of the pudding

Research helps protect consumers from a weight-loss ingredient showing erratic results

Challenge

In 2002, food-giant Unilever considered using a new ingredient, Fabuless, for its range of slimming products. Early studies suggested that the ingredient might help people lose weight through appetite control, but the company needed more information about the ingredient and its effectiveness.

Solution

Unilever approached Professor Peter Rogers and his group in the School of Experimental Psychology who are well known for their expertise in the field of nutrition and behaviour. The group carried out a series of trials and meta-analysis and found that Fabuless has extremely marginal benefits, and only when it was used in its unprocessed, unrealistic form.

Benefits

The research findings led to Unilever’s decision in 2009 to abandon plans to use Fabuless. Unilever was happy for the result to be published and urged other companies not to use it, having a significant effect in a market sector estimated to be worth an annual $13bn.

Read the proof of the pudding case study.

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