A coconut oil-rich meal does not enhance thermogenesis compared to corn oil in a randomized trial in obese adolescents

Insights Nutr Metab. 2017;1(1):30-36. Epub 2017 Apr 17.


Background: Consumption of medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in overweight adults increases thermogenesis and improves weight management. Coconut oil is a rich natural source of MCT, but its thermogenic effect is unknown. Our study evaluated the effects of a test oil enriched in coconut oil, on energy expenditure, satiety, and metabolic markers in a randomized, double blind, cross-over study.

Methods and findings: Fifteen children, age 13-18 years, body mass index >85th percentile for age and sex, were enrolled. Two test meals, containing 20 g of fat from either corn oil or a coconut oil-enriched baking fat (1.1 g of fatty acids with chain lengths ≤ 10C), were administered. A fasting blood sample was taken before breakfast and at 30, 45, 60, 120, and 180 min post-meal for measurement of metabolites. Thermic effect of food (TEF) was assessed over 6 h using indirect calorimetry. Satiety was measured using visual analog scales (VAS). There was no significant effect of fat type, time, or fat type × time interaction on TEF, appetite/satiety, glucose, and insulin area under the curve. There was a significant effect of fat type on leptin (P=0.027), triglycerides (P=0.020) and peptide YY (P=0.0085); leptin and triglyceride concentrations were lower and peptide YY concentrations were higher with corn oil consumption.

Conclusion: A coconut oil-enriched baking fat does not enhance thermogenesis and satiety in children. Given that this is the only current study of its kind, more research is needed into the use of coconut oil as a tool in weight management in overweight and obese children.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Cholesterol; Obesity; Thermogenesis; Triglycerides; Weight management.