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Clinical trial supports CLA’s weight management in obese Chinese

By Stephen Daniells , 17-Feb-2012
Last updated on 17-Feb-2012 at 14:47 GMT

Daily supplements of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) may reduce body weight and body fat levels in obese Chinese consumers, say results from a clinical trial.

Twelve weeks of supplementation produced an average 0.7 kg decrease in body weight and an average decrease in total body fat of 0.6 kg, according to findings published in Nutrition.

“To our knowledge, this is the first randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the effect of CLA on body fat composition in a Chinese population,” wrote the researchers, led by Chih-Kun Huang, MD, from the I-Shou University.

“The consumption of milk supplemented with CLA (3.4 g/d for 12 wk) significantly decreased the body weight, BMI, body fat mass, fat percentage, subcutaneous fat mass, and waist-to-hip ratio in overweight and grade I obese subjects.”

CLA key to weight management sector success?

CLA is a fatty acid naturally present in ruminant meat and dairy products. Due to changes in the Western diet, average intake of CLA has fallen; if the fat is removed from a dairy product to make a low fat version that will be acceptable to consumers, CLA is removed along with it.

The ingredient was recently highlighted by market analyst Euromonitor as a nutrient with a “key” role to play in the global weight management market.

The analyst put the global weight management market (or at least 32 countries surveyed) at $144bn in 2010 and predicted it would grow to $162bn by 2015, with 95% of that accounted for by reduced calorie foods and drinks, or as it calls it, the “passive approach” of taking ingredients like sugar and fat out of foods.

Euromonitor said the “active approach” of adding nutrients like CLA was worth $6.3bn in 2010, with reduced fat foods valued at about $80bn. Since the sharp peak and fall in popularity of the Atkins diet in the mid-2000s, low-carb foods had dwindled in value to $700m from $2bn five years ago.

Chinese data

The new study used the Tonalin branded ingredient from BASF, and involved 63 obese Chinese subjects randomly assigned to receive daily supplements of CLA (1.7 grams) or placebo (salad oil) in a milk product for 12 weeks.

Results showed that 12 weeks of supplementation produced decreases in all of the measures of body composition measured, compared with values at the start of the study, except for lean body mass – no changes in this were recorded.

Compared to values at the start of the study, the participants in the CLA group displayed average decreases in body weight of 0.7 kg, BMI of 0.31 kg/m2, body fat mass of 0.58 kg, and fat percentage of 0.6%.

Results were even more striking when the researchers focused on people with BMIs greater than 27 kg/m2, they said.

Some changes were reported for cholesterol and triglyceride levels, noted the researchers, but such changes were “slight, within the normal range, and not significantly different from the baseline values”.

“The supplementation of CLA for 12 weeks in overweight and grade I obese Chinese subjects yielded lower obesity indices, with no obvious adverse effects,” concluded the researchers.

Source: Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2011.09.008
“Effect of conjugated linoleic acid supplementation on weight loss and body fat composition in a Chinese population”
Authors: S-C. Chen, Y-H. Lin, H-P. Huang, et al.

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