Fish or n3-PUFA intake and body composition: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Obes Rev. 2014 Aug;15(8):657-65. doi: 10.1111/obr.12189. Epub 2014 May 29.


Obesity is a major public health issue and an important contributor to the global burden of chronic disease and disability. Studies indicate that fish and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n3-PUFA) supplements may help prevent cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. However, the effect of fish oil on body composition is still uncertain, so we performed a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and the first meta-analysis on the association between fish or fish oil intake and body composition measures. We found evidence that participants taking fish or fish oil lost 0.59 kg more body weight than controls (95% confidence interval [CI]: -0.96 to -0.21). Treatment groups lost 0.24 kg m(-2) (body mass index) more than controls (-0.40 to -0.08), and 0.49 % more body fat than controls (-0.97 to -0.01). Fish or fish oil reduced waist circumference by 0.81 cm (-1.34 to -0.28) compared with control. There was no difference for fat mass and lean body mass. Further research is needed to confirm or refute our findings and to reveal possible mechanisms by which n3-PUFAs might reduce weight.

Keywords: Body composition; fish; n3-PUFA.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Animals
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage*
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Fishes
  • Humans
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Seafood*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Waist Circumference


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils