Omega-3 in obesity and related disorders


Obesity and the disorders associated with it (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, etc.) are a growing health problem in the developed world. They are related with a higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which in turn, can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Furthermore, obesity is associated with non-medical issues as diminished mobility, and social stigmatization.

Adipose tissue (fat) has a very important function, it is the major energy source in the body, but eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity cause an excess of fat accumulation: obesity. There are two types of “fat depots”: white adipose tissue (which is used as a store of energy) and brown adipose tissue (whose primary function is the regulation of body temperature); right, white adipose tissue accounts for less than 5% of body weight in very lean persons and over 60% in very obese persons.

It is possible to prevent obesity and metabolic syndrome, mainly with lifestyle changes as following a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Besides, the type (saturated, unsaturated or trans) and quantity of fats in the diet are important factors in the risk for obesity: it has been observed that higher plasma levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are associated with lower obesity risk. Maternal omega-3 levels during pregnancy may influence the baby’s risk to develop obesity later in life; in the first years of the child’s life, these fatty acids can modulate adipose tissue development; and omega-3 supplementation decreases obesity risk in adults.

The beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids may help to reduce the incidence of obesity and its related disorders.



  • Huang CW, Chien YS, Chen YJ et al. Role of n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Ameliorating the Obesity-Induced Metabolic Syndrome in Animal Models and Humans. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Oct 9;17(10). pii: E1689.
  • Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health. UC Berkeley, School of Public Health. Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome. Available at:

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