Vidyya Medical News Service
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Volume 6 Issue 253 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 9-Sep-2004 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 10-Sep-2004
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Four common supplements found to slow weight gain for the middle-aged

Like many milestones, reaching age 55 has its benefits. For example, weight-loss research shows that American women gain an average of 16 pounds of body weight from age 25 to age 54. Only at about age 55 does their weight decline. Men gain an average of 10 pounds of body weight from age 25-45. They too begin to lose weight at about age 55.

Is there anything that can be done to change the slow march of weight gain that precedes middle age? Several researchers involved in a study examining the effectiveness of supplements suggest that the ingestion of four common supplements could.

A New Study
This conclusion is reached in a study, “Association of Ten-Year Weight Change with Use of Supplements Marketed for Weight Management,” conducted by M.C. Nachtigal, ND, Emily White, PhD, and Ruth Patterson PhD, all of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Dr. Nachtigal will discuss the study at the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) 19th Annual Convention & Exposition, being held September 8-11, 2004, at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center, Seattle, WA.

Methodology
The findings from this research originated with the “VITamins And Lifestyle [VITAL]” study. Using names from a commercial mailing list, 330,000 men and women in 13 counties of western Washington State, age 50-76, were contacted by mail between October 2000 and September 2002, with the goal of recruiting 75,000 people to join a cohort study of supplement use and future cancer risk.

Respondents completed a questionnaire covering detailed information on vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplement use over the previous 10 years and information on other cancer risk factors including diet, physical activity, medical history, and demographic characteristics. The National Cancer Institute, a component of the National Institutes of Health, sponsored this survey.

The researchers reviewed the responses of approximately 15,000 respondents with an average age of 55, specifically looking at weight change, energy consumption, and the use of supplements cited in the survey responses. Fourteen supplements were selected for review by the researchers, as all promised the user weight loss and increased energy, through either over-the-counter or Internet advertising. The 14 supplements the research team reviewed included multivitamins, fiber pills, soy, gingko, St. Johns Wort, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12, chromium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Respondents were assigned one of three body weight categories at age 45: normal, overweight or obese. Using the survey data, the researchers then correlated body weight changes from age 45 to 55 with the consumption of any of 14 supplements respondents had indicated they had been taking during the same 10 year time period.

Results
Using correlational and observational methodologies, an analysis of the survey results revealed the following:

  • Respondents who consumed multivitamins, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12, and chromium had less weight gain than their counterparts.
  • However, the positive effect of less weight gain was found to be most prevalent among those individuals who had been categorized as overweight or obese.
  • Gender had minimal impact on the survey results.
  • Racial differences were not considered due to the overwhelming Caucasian demographic of the master survey respondents.

Conclusions
The researchers concluded that individuals who gained the least weight were those who had consumed multivitamins, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-12 and chromium and were categorized as either overweight or obese at age 45.

The researchers suggest that chromium, found to help regulate blood sugar for diabetics, led to less food consumption by the study sample. They also hypothesize that individuals lacking micronutrients such as B vitamins might eat in excess; thus correcting B-6 and B-12 vitamin deficiencies could lead to lower caloric intake. The next step in the effort to determine the impact on supplements on weight gain is a clinical trial for a specified age and weight group.


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