“American paradox,” but CLA supplements don’t help lose weight

Earlier, I reported that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) produced a significant reduction in fat mass compared to placebo. I recommended caution however, before adding CLA supplements to you daily pill count.

Here’s why.

In this study, researchers measured body changes following CLA supplementation with a product called Tonalin (supplied by Cognis, a specialty chemicals and nutritional ingredients company), which was taken for 12 weeks in 48 otherwise healthy obese people.

Treatment groups were randomly assigned to treatment.

  • Placebo (8 grams safflower oil/day)
  • CLA 3.2 grams/day
  • CLA 6.4 grams/day

And the results according to an article in FoodNavigator.com.

  • The high dose CLA group had an increase in lean body mass of 0.64 kg (a little less than 1.5 pounds).
  • However, there was no significant effect on body fat mass, weight, or body mass index.
  • Some markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein, and IL-6, and white blood cells) increased, although these values never exceeded normal limits.

The bottom line?
It’s unclear to me what value this product has if you don’t actually lose any weight. A Medscape review concluded, “Supplemental use of CLA produces minimal reductions, at best, in body weight.”

The increase in C reactive protein is interesting. Many think high levels are a positive risk factor for heart disease. But since the values stayed within normal range, let’s not over interpret this finding.

The researchers believe that more studies using varying doses of CLA over longer periods and in different patient populations might yield useful information.

5/10/07 18:05 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.