Effect of Conjugated Linoleic Acid on Body Composition and Plasma Lipids in Humans: An Overview of the Literature

Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;79(3):352-61. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/79.3.352.


Studies in mice have indicated that feeding diets containing 0.5-1% conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) considerably reduces body fat. These findings have attracted much interest because of the potential use of CLA as a tool to promote weight loss in humans. Several CLA studies in humans have now been published, and the objective of the present review was to give an overview of these experiments. Most of the studies were done in free-living subjects and were not strictly controlled for nutrient and energy intakes. None of the studies found a significant reduction in body weight, and only 2 studies showed a significant but relatively small body fat-lowering effect. Some studies suggested that CLA may have a tendency to increase lean body mass. Furthermore, there are indications from animal studies that CLA may have effects on plasma lipids. However, only one study in humans showed a significant HDL-cholesterol-lowering effect of CLA; in all the other studies, there were no significant effects on plasma total, LDL-, and HDL-cholesterol concentrations or on plasma triacylglycerol concentrations. Thus, the results of the studies in humans indicate that the effect of CLA on body fat is considerably less than that anticipated from mice studies and that CLA has no major effect on plasma lipids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Body Composition / drug effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin / blood
  • Linoleic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Lipids
  • Linoleic Acid