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How seaweed could help us lose weight

Wouldn't it be great if we could we eat what we want without putting on weight.

It's seen by many as the Holy Grail of dieting and if it were possible it could transform the lives of those struggling with obesity.

Well, it appears that scientists at Newcastle University are close to achieving just that, and they are doing it using seaweed.

It has long been known that seaweed has many healthy properties but this research has the potential to allow us to control weight gain as we eat.

While working on his phd Dr Matt Wilcox identified specific natural seaweed fibres called alginates that prevent the body absorbing fat.

In the UK fat makes up about 40% of our diet. And the body is very good at digesting it. This means virtually all of the fat we eat is absorbed.

So, if we can stop the body digesting fat it won't be absorbed and we won't pile on the calories.

Alginates are already used as additives in foods as a thickening agent, and even to prolong the head on pint of beer.

And it is through its role as an additive that it is hoped the fat fighting alginates will work.

Currently the only effective weight loss drug is Orlistat. It is used to treat obesity but has two drawbacks.

It comes as a medicine which has to be taken separately, and there are some unpleasant side effects.

Bowl movements are more frequent and can come without warning as the unabsorbed fats make their way through the digestive system.

Dr Wilcox says that the alginates he has discovered can be mixed with fatty foods. This could mean manufactures would be able to add the correct amount of alginates to make them healthier.

This has all the makings of a super food which you can eat and eat without putting on an ounce.

The reality may not be as simplistic as that, but this bio-technology does have huge potential and could prove to be a game changer not only in the personal battle of the bulge but also in the shadow of an increasingly worrying obesity epidemic.