Omega-3 and obesity


Obesity has increased over the last decades, in addition to occurring earlier in life (nowadays, there is more obesity in children worldwide than ever before). And being overweight or obese (to have too much body fat) is not just a cosmetic problem, but it increases the risk of diseases and health problems. However, even modest weight loss can improve or prevent these consequences, and dietary changes and increased physical activity can help lose weight.

Mammals have two main types of adipose (fat) tissue: white adipose tissue, the most abundant, which stores extra calories, and brown adipose tissue, whose function is to transfer energy from food into heat (there is a third type of fat cell, the beige adipocyte, that changes between energy storage and production of heat). Cold exposure and diet increase the browning of white adipose tissue and the production of heat. Omega-3 fatty acids increase the production of heat whereas omega-6 lead to white fat deposits and obesity, inhibit browning of white adipose cells and increase their size and number.

The risk of being overweight or obese is inversely related with the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cell membranes, while the amount of omega-6 fatty acids and higher amount of omega-6 in relation to the amount of omega-3 are positively associated with weight gain. High-fat diets rich in omega-6 fatty acids (including, for example, mayonnaise, potato chips, popcorn, fast foods made with omega-6 rich fats, cookies, candies, cakes, muffins, cheese, eggs, etc.) have been shown to increase the risk of obesity in humans.

Taking into account all of the above, there seems to be a clear need to reduce the amount of omega-6 and to increase the amount of omega-3 in the diet, in order to prevent obesity or to improve it.




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