Higher branched-chain amino acid intake is associated with a lower prevalence of being overweight or obese in middle-aged East Asian and Western adults

J Nutr. 2011 Feb;141(2):249-54. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.128520. Epub 2010 Dec 15.


Beneficial effects on body weight of supplementation with BCAA, including leucine, isoleucine, and valine, have been observed in animal and human studies. However, population-based studies on dietary BCAA intake and body weight are lacking. The objective of this study was to examine the association between dietary BCAA intake and risk of overweight status/obesity among multi-ethnic populations. The International Study of Macro-/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure is a cross-sectional epidemiological investigation in China, Japan, the UK, and the US. The study cohort included 4429 men and women ages 40-59 y who were free of diabetes. Diet was assessed by 4 multi-pass 24-h recalls; data on nutrients including BCAA were derived from country-specific food tables. Overweight status and obesity were defined as BMI ≥ 25 and BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2), respectively. Multivariable-adjusted OR of overweight status/obesity and 95% CI by quartiles of BCAA intake were estimated by logistic regression. Mean BCAA intake was 2.6 ± 0.6% energy; intake was significantly lower among Chinese participants and similar among participants from the other 3 countries. Compared with those in the first quartile, the multivariable-adjusted OR (95% CI) of overweight status from the 2nd to 4th quartiles of BCAA intake were 0.97 (0.80-1.17), 0.91 (0.75-1.11), and 0.70 (0.57-0.86), respectively (P-trend < 0.01). BCAA intake and obesity were also inversely associated (P-trend = 0.03). In conclusion, higher dietary BCAA intake is associated with lower prevalence of overweight status/obesity among apparently healthy middle-aged adults from East Asian and Western countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / administration & dosage
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / therapeutic use*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Diet Records
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / prevention & control*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain