Prepared Foods May 10, 2005 enewsletter

Research published in The Journal of Nutrition confirms that taking a conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplement can help reduce body fat -- and help keep it off -- safely and effectively. Those taking part in the long-term study not only lost body fat, but also maintained their lean muscle mass, which in turn could help to reduce the potential “yo-yo” effect often associated with diet plans.

"Having a product that reduces the health risks of going on and off diets -- the ‘yo-yo’ effect -- is groundbreaking. Interest in CLA has been spurred by consumers' increased demand for safe, stimulant-free products for reducing unwanted inches," comments Dr. Michael W. Pariza, director of the Food Research Institute [University of Wisconsin-Madison] and a renowned CLA expert.

CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid which helps lower the amount of fat normally stored after meals, helping the body to break down and use fat efficiently. Tonalin CLA, used in this long-term study, is produced from safflower oil and taken as a daily food supplement.

Losing excess fat to achieve a healthy balance between body fat and lean muscle is a key factor in successful, long-term weight management, health and fitness. Research shows that CLA can help by reducing excess body fat without losing lean body mass, and the results are most likely to be seen as lost inches and a change in body shape.

The latest findings are a continuation of a landmark study published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which revealed that CLA reduced body fat mass [BFM] in overweight, but otherwise healthy, adults by as much as 9%. The results also show that people with the highest body mass index [BMI] and BFM, especially women, were more likely to lose body fat than those with lower BFM.

Another important finding is that CLA supplementation helps lower levels of leptin. High levels of the hormone leptin are associated with increased body weight. Over the course of 24 months, leptin levels dropped 20% to 35% as study subjects lost body fat.

This is the first study to document the long-term safety and efficacy of CLA supplementation over a two-year period without lifestyle or dietary changes. It began as a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study over a 12-month period, but was later extended by a further 12 months as open treatment. Of the original 180 subjects, 157 completed year one, 134 volunteered to participate in the extension, and 125 completed the entire 24 months. The second 12 months were aimed at evaluating the safety of CLA and assessing its effects on body composition (body fat mass, lean body mass, bone mineral mass, body weight and BMI) over a prolonged period of time. Overall, CLA supplementation for 24 months in healthy, overweight adults was well tolerated.

As the latest research shows, CLA's main potential benefit is body fat reduction and helping to prevent fat regain; as such, it could be a valuable part of a weight management program that includes a healthy diet and lifestyle.