Functional foods and nutraceuticals in the management of obesity

Gursevak S. Kasbia (Behavioural and Metabolic Research Unit, Monfort Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Publication date: 1 October 2005

Abstract

Purpose

With a global increase in the prevalence of obesity, nutrition and exercise play a key role in its prevention and treatment. Natural product (nutraceutical) interventions are currently being investigated on a large‐scale basis as potential treatments for obesity and weight management. This paper aims to examine current research on nutraceuticals and their role in the management of obesity and body composition. This paper will focus specifically on nutraceuticals, which are plant‐based, which may aid in preventing/treating the metabolic syndrome. Those that will be discussed include conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), capsaicin, Momordica Charantia (MC) and Psyllium fibre.

Design/methodology/approach

Recent empirical evidence has suggested that the utilization of such nutraceuticals to treat human cases of the metabolic syndrome may indeed be warranted. By examining various databases and conducting literature searches the following herbs and food additives were found to be of significant importance within this realm of food science. More importantly, emphasis was placed on research which used the randomized placebo control design.

Findings

Whilst many of the nutraceuticals already have widespread usage, dosage and utilization have still not been critically examined in research literature. Many studies have focused solely on animal research, while others have implemented these nutraceuticals in controlled human trials.

Research limitations/implications

Whilst many journal articles met rigorous scientific standards, international research in this area has also revealed that, language barriers may exist. The field of clinical nutraceutical research is rel atively new in North America, and thus much information is still available in the East but barriers still exist with respect to knowledge of certain herbs.

Practical implications

Clinical nutritionists as well as physicians must gain knowledge of nutraceutical usage as well as availability. With recent marketing of products online, issues of safety should also be raised with respect to clinical treatment. Some products may have contra‐indicatory properties and thus further investigation with nutraceuticals and significant interactions with physician supervised treatment should also be evaluated in future research.

Originality/value

To date few papers have evaluated nutraceutical usage specifically clinical usage and, furthermore, the implications that some may have on obesity and treatment of the metabolic syndrome. Filling this gap in the literature may allow other researchers, clinicians and physicians to learn more about nutraceuticals.

Keywords

Citation

Kasbia, G. (2005), "Functional foods and nutraceuticals in the management of obesity", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 35 No. 5, pp. 344-352. https://doi.org/10.1108/00346650510625557

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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