Commercial health food for sustained appetite control
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Aberdeen
Unit of AssessmentClinical Medicine
Summary Impact TypeHealth
Research Subject Area(s)
Medical and Health Sciences: Clinical Sciences, Nutrition and Dietetics
Summary of the impact
The Fuller Longer™ (FL) food range was developed by Marks
& Spencer (M&S) with expertise from the University of Aberdeen
Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health. Product development was based on
Rowett research into the efficacy of high protein and mixed carbohydrate
diets for sustained appetite control and weight loss. Obesity is a major
public health challenge; therefore it is not surprising that FL has become
an established brand for M&S's 20 million customers. This
industry-academia partnership to develop a food range based on scientific
input, was a first for M&S, and has led to one of the UK's most
popular retail healthy-eating food ranges.
Therefore the claimed impact here includes benefits to health and
welfare, on commerce, business performance and the economy.
The research findings underpinning the development of FL emerged from
human intervention studies conducted from 2008 onwards and led by Dr
Alexandra Johnstone, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen
Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health. These demonstrated the use of
high protein diets in volunteer appetite control and weight loss. The
Aberdeen team conducted numerous studies in obese human volunteers to
examine the mechanistic basis of protein-induced satiety in long-term
dietary studies. This included psychological and physiological monitoring
in free-living and laboratory controlled nutritional studies.
The team identified that high-protein, moderate carbohydrate (HPMC) diets
are as effective at achieving appetite control as less balanced
high-protein, low carbohydrate (HPLC) diets . This indicated that the
novel HPMC dietary composition could in fact maintain intake of fruit,
vegetables and fibre — the absence of which is a frequent criticism of
other high-protein diets [2,3]. The research identified protein as the key
macronutrient in modulating hunger .
The researchers received external funding from the Scottish Chief
Scientist Office to use Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to understand
how HPMC weight loss diets mediated changes in the brain. This work
indicated uptake of glucose by the brain remained similar, despite
differential nutrient supply. The initial HPMC diet studies used meat
protein sources, but the team were successful in obtaining further
external funding (a competitive grant award from the Alpro Foundation) to
also examine the role of vegetable protein sources in appetite control.
This indicated that vegetarian sources of protein have comparably positive
effects on satiety. More invasive methods using tracer kinetics were also
applied to assess how protein turnover and amino acid flux, are related to
gut hormone profile.
In order to identify the mechanisms behind protein-induced satiety, and
the relationship between protein and carbohydrate dietary components,
animal (rodent) studies were conducted with the Rowett Gut Health group
. Using tightly controlled dietary studies, and the collection and
analysis of faecal samples, the optimal macronutrient content could be
identified. This research revealed the importance of maintaining
carbohydrate with protein for optimal gut health . These different
research strands were then integrated, leading to the development of a
number of weight-reducing diets based on high protein intakes. These novel
diets promoted satiety, at caloric intakes below normal daily energy
expenditure requirements, leading to weight loss. The safety and efficacy
of these diets has recently been confirmed .
This research has been published in peer-reviewed publications (e.g.
[1,3,4,6]) and presented at international research symposia. The
subsequent interaction with M&S took the research findings of
protein-induced satiety from the laboratory through to the marketplace.
The product range has represented a huge commercial success for the
industry partner. Further work is underway to assess the efficacy of the
specific M&S FL food range in longer-term studies to support a health
food claim portfolio of research.
References to the research
Peer reviewed publications:
 Johnstone AM, Horgan, GW, Murison SD, Bremner DM, Lobley GE. (2008).
Hunger and appetite response to a high-protein ketogenic diet in obese men
feeding ad libitum. Am J Clin Nutr, 87: 44-55.
(This cornerstone study identified that high protein component of the
diet, rather than a low-carbohydrate component is important in
controlling appetite. This discovery ran counter to the then dieting
`trends' such as the Atkins diet, and led directly to the contract work
 Johnstone AM. High protein diets for appetite control and weight loss
— the `holy grail' of dieting? (2009). Br J Nutrition, 101:
(An invited commentary of peer publications).
 Johnstone AM, Lobley GE, Horgan GW, Bremner DM, Fyfe CL, Morrice PC,
Duthie GG. (2011). Effects of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate weight loss
diet on antioxidant status, endothelial function and plasma indices of
cardio-metabolic profile. Br J Nutrition, 106: 282-291.
(This study examined the safety and efficacy of the diet).
 Russell WR, Gratz SW, Duncan SH, Holtrop G, Ince J, Scobbie L, Duncan
G, Johnstone AM, Lobley GE, Wallace RJ, Duthie GG, Flint HJ. (2011).
High-protein, reduced-carbohydrate weight- loss diets promote metabolite
profiles likely to be detrimental to colonic health. Am J Clin Nutr
(One of several publications with the Gut Health group identifying the
role of type and amount of carbohydrate required during dieting).
 Johnstone AM. (2012). Safety and efficacy of high-protein diets for
weight loss. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 71: 339-349.
(This paper discusses and documents current opinion on high protein
weight loss diets and attempts to dispel common myths surrounding
different high protein diets).
 Duncan SH, Lobley GE, Holtrop G, Ince J, Johnstone AM, Louis P, Flint
HJ. (2008) Human colonic microbiota associated with diet, obesity and
weight loss. Int J Obes (Lond), 32:1720-4.
(This paper discusses current thoughts on role of gut microbiota in
weight control, relevant for the safety and efficacy of the dietary
Grant awards which have supported this work:
• 2013 Marks and Spencer — LEAD PI — Weight loss trial, £200k
• 2010 Marks and Spencer — LEAD PI — Weight loss trial, £150k
• 2009 Marks and Spencer — Consultancy agreement, £15k.
• 2009 Alpro Foundation £66k — LEAD PI — Effect of soya protein on
appetite and gut health.
• 2007 World Cancer Research Fund — £150k — collaborative grant with Gut
Health at the Rowett-effect of starch and fibre on metabolic health and
weight loss diets.
• 2007 Chief Scientist Office — £15k — collaborative grant with clinical
colleagues and University of Aberdeen PET scan department, to assess brain
metabolism on weight loss diets.
Details of the impact
Obesity and its associated co-morbidities are a major public health
burden. The development of a commercially available, specifically designed
food range gives consumers another option to make sensible meal choices to
control their weight.
The Rowett research was the subject of a series of high impact
publications and presentations at major conferences. M&S was contacted
as part of an ongoing programme at the Rowett aimed at promoting knowledge
transfer to the food industry. Following a presentation of this research
at a meeting with M&S senior executives, prospects for its commercial
application as part of complete meal solutions was explored in 2008. The
potential for the development of a new range of calorie controlled food
products, underpinned by Dr Johnstone's research into high protein diets,
was quickly identified as a key strength for the development of a unique
and new commercial food range.
M&S retained Dr Johnstone and her team, for a year in 2009, to
provide scientific support and guide them in creating and developing their
new product concept. The Rowett team also worked face-to-face with the
M&S senior management team and their supply chain partners to
reinforce their understanding of the scientific basis for the new food
The Aberdeen researchers provided further scientific support during the
development of marketing and media materials [a,b]. They were also
involved at the formal event in London in January 2010 when the range was
launched in M&S stores across the UK, with an estimated weekly
customer base of 20 million people. Figures for one week's sales in
January 2012 indicate it is the No1 food diet brand in M&S in healthy
meals (including FL and Count on Us™ ranges) with 1.5m meals sold in a
week (M&S statistics, personal communication from Head Office). The FL
range has exceeded sales expectations and was quoted in the 2011/2012
M&S annual reports. Just a year after launch (2011) of this new
product range, the Fuller Longer range became the UK's second favourite
health food brand. This range was beaten into second place only by Marks
and Spencer's own hugely successful Count on Us™ range, which
had a clear advantage of being in its eleventh year of production. The FL
range continues to grow with addition of new products following consumer
demand for more variety. In July 2012, M&S reported that the company
held the highest share of the market for healthy eating through the
quarter with its FL range as the market leader [c,d].
The Fuller Longer™ (FL) range encourages people to manage
their weight sensibly with a menu plan, which features a carefully
calculated balance of proteins and carbohydrates for calorie-counted meals
and snacks to achieve sustained weight loss. Recently, the FL range has
been extended further to give those following the programme more choice
and a greater range of flavours. There is currently an M&S-produced
advert which explains the expanding range of meals available. Importantly,
details of this range of foods have been featured by a wide and diverse
range of media targeting a range of ages and socio-economic groups (e.g.
YouTube, Daily Star, Daily Record, The Daily Telegraph, The
Independent, Cosmopolitan, LiveStrong, Reuters, BBC). Given the
obesity challenge facing the world, this type of coverage is vital to
provide information to the large numbers of people trying to achieve a
healthy weight [e,f,g,h,i].
The relationship between M&S and Dr Johnstone's group has developed
further through collaborative research into science-led design of dietary
components. The company has now identified new areas of potential
interaction, including the assessment of other M&S food ranges and the
provision of in-house training for staff. The collaboration with industry
has led to Dr Johnston's team organising a key satellite symposium,
`Industry and academic partnerships for developing health-improving
products', at the Nutrition Society Summer meeting 2011, with M&S,
where the data on weight loss and improvement in health indices were
presented to peer groups. This successful and important collaboration with
industry has been further highlighted by the Scottish Government supported
website, Knowledge Scotland [j].
Overall, this research has had clear and demonstrable impacts on commerce
through the development and sales of new products, with resultant enhanced
business performance and competitiveness. Furthermore, with increasing
concern over levels of obesity in the UK, there is an additional impact of
this research on health and welfare in terms of public behaviour as
evidenced by the increasing sales of this product. Marks and Spencer are
putting together the required data for a portfolio for a health claim with
the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA).
Therefore the claimed impact as defined by REF is that: the research
has demonstrable impacts on commerce through the development and sales
of new products, with resultant enhanced business performance and
competitiveness. Furthermore, with increasing concern over levels of
obesity in the UK, there is an additional impact of this research on
health and welfare in terms of public behaviour as evidence by the
increasing sales of this product.
Sources to corroborate the impact
Marks and Spencer Health and Nutrition Website
April 2013 — M&S company home page web link to FL range
information; mentions the role of the University: `It was developed
with expert advice from scientists at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition
and Health at the University of Aberdeen, renowned for its ground-breaking
research on effective weight-loss.'
April 2013 — M&S company home page web link to FL menu plan
Financial impact and trading figures
2012 — M&S annual report with FL mention on page 23
July 2011 — M&S sales figures releases via press article
Press and Media coverage
April 2011 — M&S trading figures
Jan 2011 — M&S advertisement — FL diet
2012 — A journalist tests the FL meals for a month and loses a stone in
Jan 2012 — Newspaper coverage on FL food range
Dec 2011 — Cosmopolitan magazine article
The Knowledge Scotland Website
July 2011 — Science engagement website for Government Policy colleagues