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Health News Archive 74 - Diet and Weight Loss
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Omega-3 For Weight Control

An article published in Lipids 2004 reviewed effects of omega-3s and weight control. The study reaffirms research concluding the importance of omega-3s for general health and weight control.

"It is well established that a diet rich in seafood prevents weight gain but the mechanisms responsible for this effect has not been known," stated Morten Bryhn, M.D., Ph.D., director of research and development for Pronova Biocare, makers of EPAX® Omega-3 EPA/DHA. "This article presents effects on weight reduction in obesity prone animals using different omega-3 concentrates containing EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) or DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These animals behave very much like humans in the way that overfeeding leads to severe obesity."

Data from the study clearly demonstrated that the omega-3 concentrate rich in DHA increased oxidation of fat by activating genes that breaks down fat in the mitochondriae and peroxisomes. These effects not only showed weight reduction but they also showed weight gain prevention in animals given free access to food. Additionally, the omega-3 concentrate not only intensified breakdown of fat but also reduced the number of fat cells, especially in the abdominal region. The effects were augmented in animals on a concomitant 10% calorie reduction regimen.

This regimen has also been tested in a pilot study, presented at the North American Association for Study of Obesity (NAASO) Annual Meeting, November 2004, including 20 women with severe obesity (Body Mass Index, BMI, more than 40). The women were already on a very low calorie diet. The group given the omega-3 concentrate reduced their weight by 20% more than the group given placebo after only three weeks of treatment. BMI was reduced by as much as 15%. The effects were highly impressive because of the short treatment period.

"Being overweight is not only a problem of too much food and too little exercise but also a problem of bombarding genes with signals leading to fat accumulation. A diet rich in red meat and vegetable oils increases accumulation of fat in fat tissue because of a chronic disarray of genes responsible for handling fatty acids and carbohydrates," stated Dr. Bryhn. "The number of fat cells increases and turnover of carbohydrates into fat is facilitated. The net result is being overweight which leads to obesity that is difficult to curb by calorie reduction and exercise only. Genes are constantly programmed to a situation of starvation and they need to be reprogrammed. Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood seem to do exactly that."

According to Dr. Bryhn, the process of reprogramming genes is slow so no drastic effect is to be expected by taking DHA. Weight control should be a combination of: reduced intake of red meat, saturated fat and foods containing vegetable oils and carbohydrates, regular exercise and increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids high in DHA.

The health benefits of marine omega-3 fatty acids are increasingly being accepted worldwide. The scientific evidence continues to mount, representing an opportunity for the treatment and prevention of common diseases. The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization both support the addition of omega-3 fatty acids to diets citing their importance in maintaining good health.

References:

NAASO's 2004 Annual Meeting, Volume 12, October 2004, Supplement, Program Abstracts. No 249-P. Weight Reduction with VLDC and N-3 PUFA Leads to Higher Decrease of Weight and BMI in Severely Obese Women.

Ruzickova J, et al. Omega-3 PUFA of marin origin limit diet-induced obesity in mice by reducing cellularity of adipose tissue. Lipids 2004; 39:1177-1185.

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