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Health News Archive 73 - Diet and Weight Loss
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Landmark Study Confirms CLA Reduces Body Fat up to 9% and Helps Keep It Off

A two-year study just published in the April 2005 issue of the prestigious Journal of Nutrition concludes that long-term supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is safe and well-tolerated. Furthermore, it confirms that taking CLA decreases body fat mass (BFM) and maintains lean body mass (LBM), and so also aids weight management, reducing the potential ‘yo yo’ effect often associated with diet plans.

“This study is particularly exciting because it was intended to confirm the safety of Tonalin® CLA, but it went an important step further demonstrating that the people taking CLA also maintained their lean body mass and didn’t regain the body fat they’d lost,” said Nina Likins, Tonalin® CLA Marketing Manager. “It’s hard enough top lose body fat and even more difficult to keep it off, so this new research will be welcome news to dieters and those that formulate clinically proven products for this population,” she explained.

Overweight subjects who took 3.4 grams of CLA per day lost body fat in the first 12 months of the study, and were able to avoid regaining that fat in the second 12 months. The results of the study corroborate and expand upon earlier findings, published last spring in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (see below), which revealed that CLA reduced body fat mass in overweight, but otherwise healthy, adults by as much as 9 percent. They also reveal that people with the highest body mass index (BMI) and body fat mass (BFM), especially women were more likely to lose body fat than those with lower BFM.

Weight management is key, as research has shown that almost all dieters regain the weight they have lost within five years. This study shows that healthy, overweight participants taking a conjugated linoleic acid supplement (Tonalin® CLA) for two years lost body fat and did not regain it. “CLA helped study participants keep off lost weight while maintaining lean body mass – which keeps the metabolism going strong and burning calories, thereby reducing the chances of weight regain,” said Dr. Jean-Michel Gaullier of Scandinavian Clinical Research in Kjeller, Norway, and project manager of the CLA study.

“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,” said Dr. Michael W. Pariza, director of the Food Research Institute (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and a renowned CLA expert.

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 20-35 percent 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 restrictions. 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 157 subjects that completed the original study, 134 volunteered to participate in the extension, and 125 completed the entire 24-month study. 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. Most of the adverse effects reported during the double-blind phase were unrelated to the use of CLA (94 percent). The remainder (6 percent) were rated “mild” reactions, with the most frequent complaints being gastrointestinal in nature, evenly distributed over all groups including the placebo group.

The CLA used in this study was Tonalin® CLA, an exclusively licensed product of the Cognis Group. CLA, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, found naturally in ruminant animals like cows, lowers the amount of fat normally stored after meals, helping the body to break down and efficiently use fat. However the changes during the past 30 years in how cattle are raised (grain fed vs. grass fed) coupled with the trend toward low-fat dairy and reduced beef consumption have drastically reduced the amount of CLA humans acquire through diet. It is thought that CLA has two main sites of action: the adipocytes or fat cells, the principal site of fat storage, and the skeletal muscle cells, the principal site where fat is burned for energy. It has been proposed that CLA decreases body fat mass through four actions: by decreasing the amount of fat stored after eating, increasing the rate of fat metabolism, increasing the rate of fat breakdown in fat cells, and decreasing the total number of fat cells.

As the latest research shows, CLA’s primary benefit is body fat reduction and helping to prevent fat regain - and as such it could be a valuable addition to a healthy diet and exercise program for weight management.

Gaullier, J-M et al  J. Nutr. 2005 135:778-784.

For study abstract: please visit the Journal of Nutrition at

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Sensations of Fullness from Ingesting Hoodia: Increased ATP content/production in the hypothalamus may be a signal for energy-sensing of satiety: studies of the anorectic mechanism of a plant steroidal glycoside

For an explanation of this study, see Hoodia research studies.

A steroidal glycoside with anorectic activity in animals, termed P57AS3 (P57), was isolated from Hoodia gordonii and found to have homologies to the steroidal core of cardiac glycosides. Intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injections of the purified P57AS3 demonstrated that the compound has a likely central (CNS) mechanism of action. There is no evidence of P57AS3 binding to or altering activity of known receptors or proteins, including Na/K-ATPase, the putative target of cardiac glycosides. The studies demonstrated that the compound increases the content of ATP by 50-150% in hypothalamic neurons. In addition, third ventricle (i.c.v.) administration of P57, which reduces subsequent 24-h food intake by 40-60%, also increases ATP content in hypothalamic slice punches removed at 24 h following the i.c.v. injections. In related studies, in pair fed rats fed a low calorie diet for 4 days, the content of ATP in the hypothalami of control i.c.v. injected animals fell by 30-50%, which was blocked by i.c.v. injections of P57AS3. With growing evidence of metabolic or nutrient-sensing by the hypothalamus, ATP may be a common currency of energy sensing, which in turn may trigger the appropriate neural, endocrine and appetitive responses as similar to other fundamental hypothalamic homeostatic centers for temperature and osmolarity.

Source: MacLean DB, Luo LG. Increased ATP content/production in the hypothalamus may be a signal for energy-sensing of satiety: studies of the anorectic mechanism of a plant steroidal glycoside. Brain Res. 2004 Sep 10;1020(1-2):1-11.

Long-Term CLA Study Shows 9 Percent Reduction in Body Fat and 2 Percent Increase in Lean Muscle

The first long-term Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) study demonstrated the most significant reduction in body fat and increase in lean muscle taking TONALIN® brand CLA. The study’s results were presented at the American Oil and Chemist Society’s (AOCS) 94th Annual Meeting and Expo held in Kansas City, MI, in May 2003.  The study results were also conveyed to attendees at SupplySide East held in Secaucus, NJ, in May 2003.

While short-term CLA studies with short supplementation periods have shown that CLA use improves body composition, there have not yet been any studies on CLA’s long-term effects until now. Jean-Michel Gaullier’s “Efficacy and safety of one-year supplementation with conjugated linoleic acid in moderate overweight” demonstrated that CLA reduced body fat by nine percent and increased lean muscle by two percent. The most remarkable effects on body composition were produced by trials performed with a mixture of the bioactive isomers (cis-9, trans-11 and trans-10, cis-12). Specifically, CLA generated a significant decrease in body fat, body weight and body mass index.

Overweight subjects were randomized in three groups, and supplemented for one year either with CLA given as free fatty acid, or as triglycerides, and compared with subjects taking a placebo (olive oil). Measurements performed with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry show significant changes over time. Possible factors such as diet and training were also analyzed. In addition, the long-term safety of CLA was confirmed through rigorous recording of any side effects occurring during the overall study and analyses of blood parameters, including blood lipids and diabetes markers. Finally, records of the quality-of-life have been done in order to evaluate how CLA affected the daily life of the subjects included in the study.

CLA is a polyunsaturated, conjugated fatty acid that is a natural part of the human diet through its presence in meat and dairy products. The CLA content of natural dairy products has fallen over time, and the human body now needs to supplement its consumption of CLA from other sources.

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