Conjugated Linoleic Acid May Prove Valuable in Fighting Record High Levels of Diabetes, Obesity in U.S.
February 24, 2003 – A naturally occurring fatty acid may help diabetics manage their weight and blood sugar levels, according to an eight-week pilot study conducted by Dr. Martha Belury, associate professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University.
This finding comes just as the Department of Health and Human Services announced a 2004 budget increase of $100 million – to $125 million -- for a new initiative to prevent diabetes, obesity and asthma through community programs designed to achieve healthier lifestyles.
Reported in the January Journal of Nutrition, the study showed that diabetics who added a fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) to their diets lowered their body mass as well as blood sugar levels. Weight gain often triggers high blood sugar levels, commonly known as hyperglycemia. Lower blood sugar and body weight levels may help to reduce or stop the onset of this condition, which is a common characteristic of diabetes.
The study also found that an increased level of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in the bloodstream produced lower levels of leptin, a hormone produced from fat cells that helps produce a sense of satiety in the brain. Some researchers believe that obesity may trigger a resistance to normal leptin levels, which causes the body to produce more and contributes to increased hunger and a slower metabolism.
"The study results are encouraging, especially in light of the current epidemic of both diabetes and obesity among Americans over the past decade," says Dr. Susie Rockway, director of scientific affairs for PharmaNutrients, Inc., Lake Bluff, IL. The company supplied its CLA One®, a branded form of CLA, for the study.
According to The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the dramatic increase in both diseases puts millions more Americans at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and other related medical conditions. Diabetes costs the nation nearly $100 billion each year in direct medical costs as well as indirect economic costs, including disability, missed work and premature death. Both the Center for Disease Control and the American Diabetes Association estimate that nearly 17 million people have diabetes, of which 5.9 million are unaware they have the disease.
Human study shows CLA benefits
CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, has been shown in animal and human studies to increase lean muscle mass while decreasing body fat, particularly when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. It is found in beef, lamb and dairy products.
"Prior results using animal models have found that CLA delayed or mitigated the onset of Type 2 diabetes," said Belury, the senior author of the study. "This current study appears to indicate that CLA can also help to manage adult-onset, or Type-2 diabetes, in humans."
CLA is comprised of several different molecular structures, with CLA One containing equal amounts of the two most active structures, referred to as isomers. Extensive scientific studies suggest that two specific molecular structures have been associated with demonstrated health benefits, including regulation of body composition and leptin levels.
In the CLA study, 21 individuals diagnosed with adult-onset, or Type-2 diabetes, consumed either a daily supplement of CLA One or a safflower oil placebo for the duration of the eight-week study period. Subjects were not asked to modify their daily caloric intake or exercise levels. Among subjects taking the CLA supplement, fasting blood glucose levels decreased in nine of the 11 individuals (81 percent), but only in two of the 10 (20 percent) taking the placebo. The researchers also studied the impact of CLA on both body mass (weight) and leptin levels and found that the t10, c12 isomer was most likely responsible for reduced body weight and leptin levels.
The average weight loss among subjects consuming the CLA One supplement was approximately 3.5 pounds. The control group neither lost nor gained weight. Leptin levels decreased in the CLA group, and rose slightly in the control group.
"The fact that this one isomer appears to be responsible for reducing body weight and leptin levels is a significant finding," says Dr. Rockway. "Before this study, researchers have only been able to show that this molecular pair was influential in reducing body mass in animals. Based on this preliminary study, we now have human data that indicates CLA's ability to not only aid in weight loss but aid in weight management and the reduction of blood sugar levels," she adds.
"This study provides further evidence that the t10, c12 isomer may likely be the most active of the two by helping maintain healthy glucose levels, reducing fat mass and leptin levels. This is the same isomer that in other clinical studies has been shown to help boost the body's immune system."
Founded in 1994, PharmaNutrients is a provider of proprietary, human study-validated ingredients and technologies to the food and natural products industries. The company's activities encompass multiple technology platforms including conjugated linoleic acid and chitosan soluble fibers, as well as other related platforms, each focused on obesity or obesity-related diseases and conditions such as weight loss, weight management, diabetes, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and Syndrome X.