A small Australian clinical study shows a tantalizing promise -- that there may be a biological link for humans between weight management and their intact of omega-3 fatty acids.
New findings reported in the British Journal of Nutrition indicate that overweight and obese people have lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids than people of a healthy weight.
The researchers, led by Professor Monohar Garg from the University of Newcastle, recruited 124 people of varying weights. 21 of these were classified as having a healthy weight, 40 were classed as overweight, and 63 were obese. Those who consumed omega-3 supplements were excluded from their study.
It appears that previous studies have implicated omega-3 in protective benefits against obesity, and the new study adds to this small but growing body of evidence. A considerable number of studies already support the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA for cardiovascular and cognitive health. Other areas of potential for the fatty acids include mood and behavior, eye health, cancer risk reduction, and improved development of infants in the womb.
When studying these patients, the authors recorded an inverse relationship between total omega-3 blood levels, as well as blood levels of DHA and EPA, with Body Mass Index, the subject’s waist size, and their hip circumference.
The Australia-based researchers noted that omega-3 fatty acids may aid weight management by increasing the production of heat by burning energy (thermogenesis). Another study suggested a role of omega-3s in boosting the feeling of fullness after a meal during weight loss in both overweight and obese individuals. Such observations are linked to changes in levels of hunger hormones like ghrelin and leptin which impact on appetite, said the researchers.
“Thus, the idea that fish oil can regulate weight status via improved appetite control along with a subsequent reduction in energy intake is plausible and worthy of further investigation,” wrote Prof Garg and his co-workers.