Everyone knows what it means to be overweight. From early age on, children can tell the difference between “fat” and “thin” people. They also get the clear message that fat people are apt to be less popular. Body weight is one of the most basic issues of human life. Self-esteem, acceptance among peers and perhaps lifelong success or failure are all tied to our physical appearance. Medically speaking, not all overweight people are obese. Obesity is defined as weight that exceeds 15 percent of normal weight for height and body type. “Morbid” obesity exceeds 20 percent of optimum weight. An obese or overweight person is at high risk for a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, varicose veins, dementia, psychological stress, depression, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Omega-3 refers to a group or “family” of unsaturated fatty acids. The first fatty acid in this group is named alpha linolenic acid or just linolenic acid, and sometimes it is just called omega-3. Linolenic acid cannot be made in the body and therefore, it is classified as an essential fatty acid and must be obtained from either the diet or in supplement form. The other two fatty acids in the omega-3 family are named eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body can manufacture EPA and DHA by conversions from linolenic acid. Flaxseed, chia, rapeseed, soybeans, alfalfa, and walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids. Cold water fish and wild game also are sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Researchers published a study in the journal Lipids investigating whether omega-3 had any influence on weight management. The double-blind trial involved 160 overweight volunteers (body mass index, BMI >30) for 90 days. The experimental group was given food high in animal fat with low PUFA/saturated fatty acid but a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio using linseed-fed animals. The control group was provided with food containing less animal fat, higher PUFA/saturated fatty acid and higher omega-6/omega-3 ratio. The results were a significant reduction in weight, BMI and hip circumference within both groups. However, 150 days after the end of the trial the researchers found a significant weight gain in the control group while the experimental group experienced no significant weight gain indicating a diet rich in omega-3 obtained by eating linseed-fed animals may indeed be effective in weight management and was also effective in maintaining EPA and DHA levels without fish consumption.1
1 Legrand P, Schmitt B, Mourot J, et al. The consumption of food products from linseed-fed animals maintains erythrocyte omega-3 fatty acids in obese humans. Lipids. 2010;45(1):11-9.