Introduction: Numerous supplements containing conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) are presently being promoted for body weight reduction. The aim of this systematic review is to evaluate the evidence for or against the long-term efficacy of CLA.
Methods: Electronic searches were conducted to identify relevant randomized clinical trials (RCTs). No restrictions in age, time, or language were imposed. Studies had to be at least 6 months in duration. Three reviewers independently determined the eligibility of studies. Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed the reporting quality of all RCTs.
Results: Fifteen RCTs were identified, and seven were included. Four of the included RCTs had serious flaws in the reporting of their methodology. A meta-analysis revealed a statistically significant difference in weight loss favouring CLA over placebo (mean difference: -0.70 kg; 95% confidence interval: -1.09, -0.32). Our meta-analysis also revealed a small significant difference in fat loss favouring CLA over placebo (MD: -1.33 kg; 95% CI: -1.79, -0.86; I (2) = 54%). The magnitude of these effects is small, and the clinical relevance is uncertain. Adverse events included constipation, diarrhea, and soft stools.
Conclusion: The evidence from RCTs does not convincingly show that CLA intake generates any clinically relevant effects on body composition on the long term.