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New Study: The Truth about CLA and Weight Loss

With obesity rates in the country incrementally rising each year, it is no wonder that it is also becoming a huge problem with our children. Less and less exercise, and more quick non-nutritional foods in our children’s’ diets are surely the culprit. But besides overhauling these two areas, how else can we combat the unhealthy move towards obesity in our children? New studies recommend CLA supplementation to “reduce fat mass and total body weight in healthy but overweight and obese children.”

What is CLA? If you have never heard the term, or perhaps have, but never knew what it was . . . listen up. CLA stands for conjugated linoleic acid, and is a fatty acid naturally present in ruminant meat and dairy products. CLA intake was never a problem in previous generations in which meat and dairy were a staple of the average American, but new movements towards exclusionary or reduction diets have greatly reduced the amount of necessary CLA in the standard American diet. However, it is a common supplement in many areas of sports nutrition as it is essential in digestive function and health.

Which brings us to our children . . .

Unfortunately, less aerobic activity and more dependence on fast food and processed foods have led to a new epidemic among our children. Though your children may be considered “healthy,” they are by medical studies overweight. This problem in our society spurned a need for study of a possible solution, and researchers at the University of Wisconsin chose to study CLA in that of overweight and obese children -- the first to choose children as its exclusive focus.

Details of the Study

Researchers from Wisconsin chose “53 prepubertal children aged between six and ten and randomly assigned them to receive either CLA (3 grams per day of 80 percent CLA) or a placebo in chocolate milk. The children were given one or the other for a total of seven months, and studied for response.

What was found was that those taking the CLA supplement on average reduced their “body fat mass by 0.5 percent and total body weight by 0.1 percent.” The placebo group, on the other hand showed average increases of 1.3 in body fat mass and 0.4 percent in total body weight. This study, of course, since it is the first to be done in connection to children needs further experimentation and analysis; but preliminary findings are surely positive in reducing the problem of overweight and obese children in our society with daily supplementation of CLA.

It should also be noted that no other lifestyle changes were implemented in this study, such as a healthier, well-balanced diet and more regular exercise. These two should first be incorporated into a child’s diet before seeking supplementation as a quick fix. This is why the study findings were labeled for “healthy but obese or overweight children.”

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