Inexpensive supplement could prevent weight gain

Fish oil could be the key to your weight loss woes if you draw inference from a study released this week that shows the impact of the supplement on mice, or maybe it just gives us hope that the magic fat preventing tablet might really be possible.

The study, by Japanese scientists published in Scientific Reports, fed two groups of mice different diets, one of which was enhanced with fish oil. The mice that ate the enhanced diet gained less weight and less fat than the other control group. They also showed the benefits which are already recognised of fish oil, with their bodies enjoying a hotter core temperature levels, lower insulin levels, lower fasting glucose levels. Oxygen consumption was also significantly increased by fish oil intake. But the ultimate benefit displayed was enhanced energy expenditure.

The research is consistent with earlier studies in demonstrating the anti-obesity effect of fish oil in mice and suggests that fish oil enhances thermogenesis.

In even more interesting findings, scientists found higher levels of a protein called UCP1 in the mice who ate fish oil. They also found UCP1 in the white fat, the type of fat that sits around in a useless mass, not doing much. But the white fat in mice who were fed fish oil contained high levels of the UCP1 protein—indicating that fish oil may help turn white fat into brown fat according to the research team.

Combined, the data indicated that fish oil intake enhances energy utilisation could thereby prevent obesity and related metabolic disorders, in mice. For humans, the reality is unknown.

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Time Magazine asked a researcher Dr. Majid Fotuhi, medical director of NeuroGrow Brain Fitness Center in Virginia, who was not involved in the study to validate the findings.

“What’s significant about the results, Fotuhi says, is that the researchers discovered the mechanism by which fish oil caused weight loss and brown fat production—at least in mice. Finding a drug that does do the same thing in people, obviously, is the “golden target”. But the science isn’t there yet”.

“The results are preliminary, and I wouldn’t rush to buy a bottle of omega-3 fatty acids to lose weight,” Fotuhi says. (He does add, however, that doing so would likely confer brain benefits.)

Might this tempt you to take your fish oil tablets with greater regularity?