Wednesday, June 01, 2011

MSG linked to weight gain

Researchers performing a study on the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate (MSG), most often associated with Chinese food and after-dinner headaches, found that people who eat more MSG are more likely to be overweight or obese. And the increased risk wasn't simply because people were stuffing themselves with MSG-rich foods. The link between high MSG intake and being overweight held even after accounting for the total number of calories people ate. The implications for public health are substantial because MSG is one of the world's most widely used food additives.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed more than 10,000 adults in China for about 5.5 years on average. Men and women who ate the most MSG (a median of 5 grams a day) were about 30 percent more likely to become overweight by the end of the study than those who ate the least amount of the flavoring (less than a half-gram a day), the researchers found. After excluding people who were overweight at the start of the study, the risk rose to 33 percent.

The link between MSG and weight gain isn't clear, but it may have something to do with the hormone leptin, which regulates appetite and metabolism. MSG consumption may cause leptin resistance, so that the body cannot properly process the energy it receives from food.

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