Background: Abdominal obesity is strongly related to metabolic disorders. Recent research suggests that dietary conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) reduces body fat and may improve metabolic variables in animals. The metabolic effects of CLA in abdominally obese humans have not yet been tested.
Objective: To investigate the short-term effect of CLA on abdominal fat and cardiovascular risk factors in middle-aged men with metabolic disorders.
Methods: Twenty-five abdominally obese men (waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), 1.05+/-0.05; body mass index (BMI), 32+/-2.7 kg/m(2) (mean+/-s.d.)) who were between 39 and 64-y-old participated in a double-blind randomised controlled trial for 4 weeks. Fourteen men received 4.2 g CLA/day and 10 men received a placebo. The main endpoints were differences between the two groups in sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD), serum cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, free fatty acids, glucose and insulin.
Results: At baseline, there were no significant differences between groups in anthropometric or metabolic variables. After 4 weeks there was a significant decrease in SAD (cm) in the CLA group compared to placebo (P=0.04, 95% CI; -1.12, -0.02). Other measurements of anthropometry or metabolism showed no significant differences between the groups.
Conclusions: These results indicate that CLA supplementation for 4 weeks in obese men with the metabolic syndrome may decrease abdominal fat, without concomitant effects on overall obesity or other cardiovascular risk factors. Because of the limited sample size, the effects of CLA in abdominal obesity need to be further investigated in larger trials with longer duration.