Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Supplement Can Help Manage Both Weight and Diabetes


WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

Aug. 20, 2000 (Washington) -- It may not make you lose much weight, but it will help you keep pounds off, while also perhaps delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes and controlling the disease.

Those are the results of the first U.S.-based studies in people of the effects of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. CLA is a popular dietary supplement commonly used to help people lose fat, maintain weight loss, retain lean muscle mass, and control type 2 diabetes -- the type of diabetes that is often associated with obesity.

CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in many meat and dairy products. In studies in animals, it has also been shown to fight arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the artery walls, and several types of cancer. It also appears to enhance the immune system. The results of the first U.S. human studies were presented Sunday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Michael Pariza, PhD, is director of the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where the fatty acid was discovered and where it has now been shown to aid in weight management. "It is keeping little fat cells from getting big," explains Pariza, one of the study's lead investigators and a member of the team that documented CLA's existence in 1978.

Since that discovery, two decades' worth of study has yielded much information about the effects of CLA, he tells WebMD. The latest study simply confirms that CLA is a safe and effective option for weight management, when combined with dieting and exercise, he says.

For the study, 80 obese people were told to diet and exercise, and their weight and body composition were monitored over a six-month periods. Most lost 3-5 lb but regained most or all of that weight. However, those study participants who took CLA retained an even ratio of muscle and fat over the six months -- while those who did not take the supplement put pounds back on at the more typical ratio of 75% fat to 25% lean mass, he says.

None of the participants had any side effects that could be attributed to the treatment, Pariza adds. In fact, the CLA group suffered from fewer stomach problems and showed an overall improvement in mood as well as mental functions, Pariza says. "The results showed that CLA made it easier for people to stay on their diets," he says.

While Pariza's study did not note a weight loss benefit, a Norwegian study suggests that CLA may help people shed a few pounds. In that study, the 60 participants were not allowed to diet, but they still lost weight.

This weight loss was equal to a 160-lb person losing 2-3 lb over three months, says researcher Ola Gudmundsen, PhD, managing director of Scandinavian Clinical Research. "That doesn't sound like a lot, but it is statistically significant," he says.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article