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Obesity and excess weight have become serious health problems in our developed societies today. Increased blood pressure, blood glucose levels and abnormal blood lipids are frequent consequences. Inhibition of digestive enzymes by pharmacological or nutritional intervention are one avenue to be considered to treat this population. In the present study a robust assay to screen biologically active materials for their ability to inhibit pancreatic lipase, the most important enzyme in fat digestion, has been developed. Methyl-umbelliferyl butyrate was used as an artificial substrate, enabling assessment of lipase activity via specific fluorescence emission. Applicability of the assay was shown by assessment of lipase inhibition activity of wild plants from Switzerland and France. Testing showed some plants to have a high inhibition rate of about 70%. In further projects, this lipase inhibition assay could be used for a scientific proof of biological activity of raw materials with the intention to develop functional foods for weight reduction.

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