Healthy food choices in all stages of life – Enable

Food pyramid with various foods and beverages, such as fruit, vegetables, coffee, sausages and cheese
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Logo of the BMBF

Ever more people are eating ready-to-eat foods on the go. Even at home, an increasing number of working people and parents are opting to buy ready-to-eat foods - for time reasons.

In order to provide people in all stages of life with healthy food choices, a number of R&D organizations and companies from the food manufacturing industry and retail sector have formed the "enable" project cluster.

New attractive and healthy convenience foods for different groups

The aim of the project cluster is to develop new, attractive, and healthy convenience foods to tackle unhealthy eating habits and prevent diet-related illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Consumers should have healthy food choices in all stages of their lives, with modern ready-to-eat foods (convenience products) not being inconsistent with a healthy lifestyle. The enable project cluster will consider the needs of different target groups such as pregnant women, adolescents, and older people. The scientists will investigate how consumers choose their foods and how these decisions can influence a healthy lifestyle. The results will be used for product development. Additionally, the development of new information and communication technologies will help to guide consumers towards more healthy foods.

Promotion of healthy nutrition

The research work is being coordinated by the Technische Universität München and the Fraunhofer IVV. We are responsible for developing new, healthy convenience products. The new food pilot plant at the institute offers excellent facilities for developing innovative products. For example, hamburgers with a balanced amount of dietary fiber, fat, carbohydrate, and protein are being developed for the youth target group. Increasing emphasis is being put on the taste impression when developing foods, because only tasty new products have high acceptance. For middle-aged consumers, an age group in which obesity and heart disease are more prevalent, the Fraunhofer IVV is developing dietary fiber enriched products to help prevent these illnesses. Priority once again here in product development is given to the sensory impression, namely the taste.

Dietary fibers for health

The Fraunhofer IVV as research partner develops a model for in-vitro glucose release for dietary fibers and high-fiber food matrices. The findings from the model will be used to characterize dietary fibers with regard to their functionality in terms of glucose metabolism and thus to develop special dietary fiber-enriched foods that positively influence the plasma glucose level. Together with the metabotyping of human beings, this will enable a targeted prevention of metabolic diseases in adulthood.

Protein drink for seniors

Furthermore, Fraunhofer IVV is developing a protein-rich, high-caloric drink for and with seniors, which can contribute to the fight against malnutrition in this vulnerable group of people. The high-protein drink developed in the first funding phase will be further optimized based on the findings of the acceptance studies and the effects of its use for the prevention of malnutrition in combination with other high-protein foods will be investigated in cooperation with the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (Chair of Biomedicine of Aging). The Fraunhofer IVV's food technology center offers excellent opportunities for developing these innovative products. The taste impression during consumption is always in the foreground during product development, because a high acceptance can only be achieved with tasty products.

Relationship between sensory perception and food selection

In addition, scientists in the MultiSense group at the Fraunhofer IVV are using functional magnetic resonance tomography (fMRT) to study brain activity during the hedonic perception and selection of foods. Special interest here is being put on elderly probands, who often suffer from poor nutrition or malnutrition. The results of the project will in the long term enable the optimization of food for older people in particular.

Project term: 2015 to 2018
Project management
/project funding:
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
/Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Website: www.enable-cluster.de