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Good Fat Fights Bad
Found in red meat and dairy, conjugated linoleic acid drops body fat by up to 9% in a year

By Keri Schram

Betterhumans Staff

5/21/2004 4:54 PM

A fatty acid in red meat and dairy products can help healthy but overweight people lose as much as 9% of their body fat in a year.

The fatty acid, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), is important to human health and has now been confirmed in a relatively large study by Scandinavian Clinical Research scientists in Kjeller, Norway to help people lose weight.

"Supplementation for one year reduces body fat mass in healthy, overweight humans," say the researchers.

Battling the bulge

Obesity describes a condition in which a person's natural energy reserve, which is stored in fat, reaches a point where it's unhealthy—someone with a body mass index of 25 to 30 is considered obese.

Obesity affects nearly 70 million adults in the US and has been linked to a range of illnesses, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, respiratory problems and certain cancers.

It is thought that CLA reduces fat by preserving lean muscle tissue. CLA decreases the amount of fat stored in the body after eating and increases the rate of fat breakdown. This helps the body use its existing fat for energy and decreases the total number of fat cells.

Previous animal and short-term human studies have suggested that CLA supplementation could reduce body fat mass.

Results in six months

For their study, the Scandinavian Clinical Research scientists examined CLA's effects over a full year.

For 12 months, they studied 180 men and women who were overweight but healthy.

Every day, participants took either a capsule containing 3.4g of CLA or a placebo.

During the study there were no exercise requirements or dietary restrictions on the participants.

Every three months the participants' weight, vital signs and body mass index were recorded. Body composition and blood samples were also analyzed.

Six months after the participants started taking CLA, they began to notice results. There were few side-effects reported, with the most common being gastrointestinal difficulties.

"The results of this first long-term study indicate that CLA, taken for one year as a dietary supplement, safely improves the ratio of body fat to lean tissue in overweight, but otherwise healthy, adults," says Jean-Michel Gaullier of Scandinavian Clinical Research. "Study participants who took 3.4g of CLA per day experienced a significant reduction in their body fat mass compared to those in the placebo group. These results confirm a trend observed in previous short-term CLA studies."

The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2004

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