Obese children may benefit from CLA: study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Supplements of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), previously reported
to have benefits for weight in adults, could also help children,
and possibly aid in the fight against childhood obesity.

According to a new study using a piglet model of human infancy, researchers report in the March issue of the Journal of Nutrition​ that showed piglets receiving CLA gained 50 per cent less body fat than their non-supplemented litter mates. The promising results, if repeatable in human children, could offer an interesting route to follow in the ongoing struggle with childhood obesity, which grew from 9.6 per cent in 1995 to 13.7 per cent in 2003 in the UK alone. EU figures estimate that around 14m EU children are currently overweight or obese, of which more than three million are obese. This study adds to an ever growing body of research supporting CLA a weight management tool. Indeed, it underlines the notion that CLA may help loose weight without affecting lean body mass, which could become important in the face of a growing obesity problem. The CLA market is expanding, according to a 2007 Frost & Sullivan report, which said the global market is forecast to reach revenues of US$109.9 million in 2013 Benjamin Corl from North Carolina State University randomly assigned 24 piglets to receive a low-fat (three per cent) or high-fat (25 per cent) milk formulas with or without a CLA supplement (one per cent) for 16 to 17 days. The piglets fed the high-fat formula were found to gain 50 per cent more body fat than piglets fed either high-fat plus CLA or the low-fat formula, report the researchers. Moreover, no changes to liver and muscle oxidation markers were reported by any of the dietary patterns, indicating the potential safety of CLA supplementation. The North Carolina-based researchers also noted a reduction in the expression of acetyl-CoA carboxylase-alpha, a key enzyme in fatty acid synthesis, in fatty tissue. "Overall, CLA reduced body fat accretion without influencing daily gain in a piglet model of human infancy,"​ wrote Corl and co-workers. "Results indicate that inhibition of fatty acid uptake and synthesis by adipose tissue, and not increased fatty acid oxidation in liver or muscle, were involved in reducing body fat gain,"​ they concluded. The promising results require confirmation in humans before CLA supplementation could be recommended for the fight against childhood obesity. Growing body of science ​ The potential of CLA to help reduce fat mass in adults was supported by a meta-analysis of 15 randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials using mixtures of trans-10, cis-12 isomers. The meta-analysis, led by Leah Whigham from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, reported that, when these results were compared to those from the placebo tests, CLA improved fat loss at a rate of 0.024 kg per gram of CLA per week. The food industry is increasingly active in the research and development of new ingredients and food formulations that could help combat the growing health problem of obesity. Source: Journal of Nutrition​ March 2008, Volume 138, Pages 449-454 "Conjugated Linoleic Acid Reduces Body Fat Accretion and Lipogenic Gene Expression in Neonatal Pigs Fed Low- or High-Fat Formulas" ​Authors: B.A. Corl, S.A. Mathews Oliver, X. Lin, W.T. Oliver, Y. Ma, R.J. Harrell, J. Odle

Related topics: Research, Weight management

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