CLA shows weight management benefits for children

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cla, Nutrition

Daily consumption of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) may reduce the body fat mass and total body weight in healthy but overweight and obese children, says a new study.

CLA supplementation for 7 months was found to reduce body fat mass by 0.5 per cent and total body weight by 0.1 per cent, compared to increases of 1.3 and 0.4 per cent in the placebo group, respectively, according to findings from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​.

Although numerous previous studies have reported the potential benefits of CLA for weight management, the new study is said to be the first to report the body fat-lowering effects of CLA in overweight and obese children.

Statistics indicate that around 22 million children in the EU are overweight, of which five million are obese, while Stateside 16 per cent of children are said to be clinically obese.

CLA facts

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 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. Key players in the market include Lipid Nutrition with its Clarinol ingredient and Cognis with its Tonalin ingredient.

Study details

Researchers led by Dale Schoeller from University of Wisconsin recruited 53 prepubertal children aged between six and ten and randomly assigned them to receive either CLA (3 grams per day of 80 per cent CLA, 50:50 cis-9,trans-11 and trans-10,cis-12 isomers, Clarinol) or placebo in chocolate milk for seven months.

At the end of the study, in addition to the beneficial changes in body fat and body weight, the researchers noted that children in the CLA group had lower increases in BMI of 0.5 kg/m2, compared to the placebo group , which had an average BMI increase of 1.1 kg/m2.

Furthermore, abdominal body fat was also less in the CLA group than the placebo group, noted Schoeller and his co-workers.

On the other hand, HDL cholesterol levels decreased more following CLA supplementation, and bone mineral accretion was also lower.

“Long-term investigation of the safety and efficacy of CLA supplementation in children is recommended,”​ concluded the researchers.

Industry welcome

The study’s results were welcomed by Alfred Haandrikman, R&D Director for Lipid Nutrition. “Childhood obesity is a big problem associated with a large array of health problems later in life,” ​he said.

“This first study into the application of CLA as food ingredients for children shows promising effect to reduce body fat and increase lean body mass and therefore has an enormous promise in improving the health of children,” ​added Haandrikman.

The study was supported by Lipid Nutrition and the National Institutes of Health.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrtion
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28404
“Effect of conjugated linoleic acid on body fat accretion in overweight or obese children”
Authors: N.M. Racine, A.C. Watras, A.L. Carrel, D.B. Allen, et al.

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