supplement may support attempts at weight loss
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A
popular dietary supplement appears to help people to
lose weight and keep it off, as well as control
adult-onset diabetes, according to findings presented at
a meeting of the
linoleic acid, or CLA, the naturally occurring fatty
acid is found in meat, cheese and dairy products.
Greater concentrations of CLA -- 500 to 1,000 milligrams
per dose -- have been marketed online and in health-food
stores as a nutritional supplement.
"What CLA does is it's
able to block that step of little fat cells getting
bigger," said Michael Pariza, director of the University
of Wisconsin-Madison's Food Research Institute and a
lead researcher for the CLA study. "Our results showed
that CLA made it easier for people to stay on their
Pariza and his colleagues
studied 80 obese patients for six months in a trial
funded by a CLA manufacturer. All followed a lower-fat
diet and exercised, while only half used CLA. The other
half took a placebo. Study participants -- regardless of
CLA usage -- lost an average of 5 pounds.
"You can do better than
that by simply getting up and taking a 30-minute walk
every single day," said Dr. Pamela Peeke, a
nutrition and metabolism at the
University of Maryland. "This was a six-month study.
What happens with continued use of this? How much is
Animal studies have been
intensively done on CLA's biological activity since the
acid was discovered more than 10 years ago. Results of
those studies and others, including the Pariza group's
-- indicate that it could help overweight people to lose
fat, increase muscle mass and improve levels of insulin.
The University of
Wisconsin-Madison researchers found more significance in
the way people in the study gained weight rather than
lost it, Pariza explained.
"The people on the
placebo gained weight the way you and I would gain
weight -- that is 75 percent of it was fat and 25
percent of it was muscle," he said. "The people who were
taking CLA who gained weight during the trial gained it
like what would happen if you were exercising. That is,
it was about 50 percent fat and 50 percent muscle."
A related CLA study done
by Ola Gudmundsen, managing director of Scandinavian
Clinical Research in Kjeller, Norway, followed 60 obese
people who took CLA but did not diet. The average
weight loss recorded was equivalent to a
160-pound person losing 2 to 3 pounds over the course of
three months. "That doesn't sound like a lot, but it is
statistically significant," Gudmundsen said.
Peeke agreed that the
results of animal studies are promising for diabetes and
some cholesterol disorders, but voiced caution about the
results, which were presented Sunday in Washington.
"We do not have anywhere
near the kind of human studies that are required to be
able to recommend this kind of supplement for this
purpose," she said. "The human data we have involves a
study where human beings lost almost no weight."
supplements are not regulated by the
U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, there is no
standardization or oversight of the product. Supplement
labels may not be accurate, and concentrations may vary.
CNN Correspondent Christy
Feig contributed to this report.
CNN Weight Loss
Click Here to Order Mediterranean Diet
Mediterranean Diet Articles