Dieters could soon be able to add a powder to yoghurts and smoothies that turns into a gel when it reaches their stomach to keep them fuller.
German company Dow Wolff Cellulosics is working on the product that they say will make people feel full after only eating small portions.
They say volunteers who participated in a trial ate 13 percent less calories at their next meal two hours later.
Head researcher Dr Carsten Huettermann, who presented his findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, said the ingredient is made from methyl cellulose, a food additive that is used in baked goods and snacks.
When it is dissolved in water and heated –– which happens in the stomach –– it turns into a gel that stays in the stomach longer and is absorbed by the small intestine.
"With that sense of fullness and hunger-satisfaction, they would not crave more food," he said.
"In our first study, we saw that fewer calories were consumed at the following meal after eating our new product."
But Kellie Bilinski, a spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, told MSN NZ it's highly unlikely the product will have a big impact on obesity.
"There's not enough evidence to say that it actually works and there might be side-effects," she said.
"Thirteen percent fewer calories isn't much. People who are overweight are probably eating 50 to 100 percent more calories than they need."
Bilinski said eating healthfully and exercising regularly is the only proven method for weight loss.
"The best way people can lose weight is to eat the foods that help them feel full naturally," she said.
"Fruits, vegetables and grainy foods are more filling because they have more fluid in them — that's the best way to feel full and the benefit is you are getting all the nutrients from those foods. Whereas if you were just to put a cellulose supplement in a food then you're not getting all the other nutritious benefits from it."