Omega-3 role in weight loss
research conducted by researchers at the University of Navarra,
Iceland and University College Cork, published in the journal,
Appetite, [i] suggests that taking omega-3 whilst following
a weight loss programme makes people feel fuller for longer,
helping to reduce appetite.
The results of this research provide useful information for
the nutritional treatment of obesity, in addition to encouraging
changes in dietary habits to increase and maintain weight
With hundreds of weight loss products on the shelves of every
supermarket and health food shop, the food industry now clearly
recognises the needs of the increasingly overweight population
for solutions to weight loss and weight management. This category
of health supplement is already estimated to be worth $7bn,
and growing fast. Clinical research studies linking obesity
and other life-threatening conditions such as diabetes, metabolic
syndrome, cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer are another
driving force behind this growth.
Over 200 volunteers were recruited to this study, who were
classified as either overweight or obese. Participants were
randomly allocated to an energy restricted diet and supplemented
with either low (260 mg per day) or high dose (1300 mg per
day) omega-3 for eight weeks. The researchers measured appetite
during the last two weeks of the study.
The interesting findings of the study relate to the hunger-influencing
properties of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Subjects fed
dinners rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids felt less hungry
and remained fuller for up to 2 hours after meals compared
with those who ate a low omega- diet. The researchers hypothesise
that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids must modulate hunger signals.
Whilst these findings suggest a potential weight-management
role for long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, further research
must be conducted in order to fully understand this mechanism.
Blood sample analysis also showed that a higher omega-3 concentration,
and a greater ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 were associated
with higher satiety. With the ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6
in the region of 2:1, the average diet is now quite significantly
out of balance, with an average ratio of approximately 25:1.
Changes in the Western diet, modern food processing techniques
and increased consumption of refined vegetable oils have been
blamed for this shift, which has been linked to increases
in a range of conditions including emotional problems, difficulties
with the circulatory system, obesity, skin problems and inattention
A wealth of research already attributes increased consumption
of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids to improved learning and
development, better memory, and reduced risk of cardiovascular
disease, depression and dementia.