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Investigating curcumin for weight loss

This meta-analysis found that curcumin supplementation can lead to small amounts of weight loss.

Study under review: The effects of curcumin supplementation on body weight, body mass index and waist circumference: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Introduction

Obesity rates have been rising over the last century. Recent data indicates that over 40%[1] of the American population, 33%[1] of the population of Mexico, and 26%[1] of the population of the United Kingdom have obesity. Obesity is the leading risk factor for developing diabetes, and estimates of diabetes are at about 9%[1] for the American population. Weight loss is one of the best strategies for reducing the risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease. Even modest amounts of weight loss can convey a substantial benefit on risk reduction. For example, a one kilogram reduction in bodyweight, relative to starting weight, can reduce the relative risk of developing diabetes by 16%[2].

Lifestyle modification, including dietary changes and regular exercise, is one of the best interventions for reducing bodyweight and lowering the risk of developing obesity-related disease like diabetes[3]. In addition to lifestyle modification, there are several natural compounds present in foods, called nutraceuticals, that have shown benefit for weight loss. Curcumin[4], one of the bioactive compounds found in the spice turmeric, has been shown to increase fatty acid oxidation[5], reduce lipid biosynthesis[6], and increase metabolic rate[4] in part through its effect on AMPK, as shown in Figure 1. Furthermore, several clinical trials have found that supplementation with curcumin can help with weight loss[7], loss of body fat[8], and reductions in BMI. However, other clinical trials[9][10] have not found an effect on weight.

Many of these trials have been performed at different doses, formulations, and durations, making it difficult to discern if there is a robust effect of curcumin across the literature base. These difference could also explain the mixed results found across clinical trials. The present study was a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression aiming to assess the current state of the evidence regarding curcumin supplementation’s effect on bodyweight, BMI, and waist circumference.

Obesity is one of the leading causes of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Reductions in bodyweight, even modest ones, convey significant benefits. Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has been shown to reduce bodyweight in randomized-controlled trials. The present study was a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression examining the effect of curcumin supplementation on bodyweight, BMI, and waist circumference.

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Other Articles in Issue #51 (January 2019)