"This science-based study offers a profound new way to begin tackling the obesity trend. If we can help overweight consumers when they need it most - during the food-filled holiday season and as they age - then this research suggests we will begin to see life-long benefits," said Christine Peggau, senior marketing manager at Cognis.
The new study, published on-line ahead of print in the International Journal of Obesity (doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803437), was sponsored by Cognis Nutrition and Health, which also provided the Tonalin CLA, derived from natural safflower oil.
"These findings suggest that CLA may serve a critical role in reducing a common weight and fat gain that occurs with age," said corresponding author, Prof Dale Schoeller from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The small, often cumulative weight gains during the Christmas holiday season tend to be irreversible and contribute to so-called 'weight creep' during adulthood.
The new study suggests that supplementation with CLA during these periods of susceptibility to increased weight and fat gain could prevent weight creep, and may actually lead to reductions in body fat.
These are the conclusions from the forty overweight men and women (age 18 to 44, BMI between 25 and 30 kg per sq. m) who took part in the six month randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Volunteers were randomly assigned to receive 3.2 grams of CLA (Tonalin, Cognis) or placebo. The researchers measured body composition, resting metabolic rate, and blood chemistries at the start and end of the trial. Dietary intake and physical activity assessments were obtained by self-reporting by the subjects.
Dr Schoeller and his team found that the subjects taking CLA safely reduced their body fat mass by one kilogram (2.2 lbs) and their body weight by 0.6 kg (1.3 lbs). In comparison, those in the placebo group gained 0.7 kg (1.5 lbs) of body fat mass and 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs) of body weight during the months that are especially problematic for overweight people.
No impact of CLA was found on the resting metabolic rate, insulin resistance, or blood lipid levels. Also, there was no difference in the number of adverse events when compared to placebo.
"Our results indicate that CLA plays a role in mitigating weight gain associated with the holiday season… and therefore may play a role in reducing the cumulative weight and fat gain that occurs with age," wrote the researchers.
The authors note that previous research has reported inconsistent results in other human CLA studies. Schoeller said that many of the studies with conflicting findings have been of "insufficient duration or have utilized body composition methods that are a little less accurate than the currently accepted criterion."
Indeed, Dr Doris Bell, research platform manager with Cognis, told NutraIngredients.com that the other studies looked at different populations, had different durations and used different measurement methods.
Also, "the majority of studies that have reported positive results have all been performed with Tonalin CLA… which has a very high concentration of the bioactive isomers cis-9, trans-11, and trans-10, cis-12," she said.
Dr Bell said that Cognis was continuing to support CLA studies both in universities and private institutions worldwide, and that more results are expected soon.
The company is not looking exclusively at weight management, she said, with some very promising results coming for CLA and immunity
Dr Bell said that the longest trial with CLA to date has been for two years and no adverse effects were recorded, boosting the safety record for the supplement.
Indeed, the researchers behind the new study noted that CLA was well-tolerated.
"As the longest CLA trial to date is two years, however, additional studies are needed before prolonged use of CLA can be recommended," said Watras.
Peggau told this website that Cognis was certainly going to share the results of the study with consumers, especially at times of heightened interest, like during the Christmas period, or before the summer.
"Research builds consumer confidence," she said.