Omega-3 helps fight obesity-related disease


Southampton researchers have shown that obese women could benefit from the anti-inflammatory effects of combining omega-3 supplements with the right daily calories.

Changing the body’s inner workings

Obesity doesn’t just change how a person looks, but has unseen impacts on the inner workings of the body. These changes put extra strain on organs such as the liver, pancreas and heart, increasing the risk of diseases like fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Over two studies Southampton researchers looked at whether the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3, found in oily fish, could help to reduce the widespread inflammation associated with obesity.

Omega 3 benefits fade in obesity

One study, led by Philip Calder from the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, suggests that obesity may reduce the body’s ability to benefit from omega-3.

Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it looked at the impact of omega-3 supplements on fat metabolism in obese and healthy-weight people over three months.

Blood samples were taken before and after eating a high-fat meal at the start and end of the study, during visits to  our NIHR Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility.  

Omega-3 supplements changed inflammatory signalling molecule levels after the meal In healthy weight participants, but this effect wasn’t seen in those with obesity.

Mixed approach brings benefits for women

However, when obese women in a second study took omega-3 supplements for three months, whilst eating the recommended daily 2000 kcal for women, it did help to lower inflammation.

This study, published in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, they showed that while almost all women on the diet lost weight, only those who also took omega-3 supplements had less obesity-related inflammation.

Thiese results suggest that combining a healthy diet and plenty of omega-3 could help to fight inflammation and prevent diseases associated with obesity.