Consuming gum Arabic for six weeks may help healthy women shed up to 2.2% body fat, says a new randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind trial from Sudan – home of the gum.
Six weeks of consuming 30 grams per day of gum Arabic was also associated with a significant reduction in BMI by 0.32 kg/m2, report researchers in the Nutrition Journal .
“Although Gum Arabic influence on energy intake and body weight regulation remains controversial, a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that gum Arabic ingestion causes significant reduction in caloric intake with an increased subjective feeling of satiety,” wrote researchers from the University of Medical Sciences & Technology in Khartoum (Sudan), the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and the University of Tuebingen in Germany.
The study adds to the weight management potential of the ingredient, which has long been a key component of the blockbuster weight management food product series, Slim Fast.
With the World Health Organization estimating that by 2015, there will be more than 1.5 billion overweight consumers, the opportunities for a scientifically-substantiated weight management product are impressive.
The market for food, beverage and supplement weight management products is already valued at $3.64bn (2009 figures) in the US, according to Euromonitor. In Western Europe, the market was worth $1.3bn in 2009.
The slimming ingredients market can be divided into five groups based on the mechanisms of action – boosting fat burning/ thermogenesis, inhibiting protein breakdown, suppressing appetite/boosting satiety (feeling of fullness), blocking fat absorption, and regulating mood (linked to food consumption).
Despite a relatively long history of use in foods, the researchers behind the new study claim that extensive testing of gum Arabic (acacia Senegal) in animals is not matched by extensive testing in humans, and that there is a “paucity” of human data.
The researchers recruited 120 healthy females with an average age of 20 and a mean BMI of 26.5 kg/m2 and randomly assigned them to consumed 30 grams of gum Arabic or 1 gram of pectin (placebo) per day for six weeks.
Results showed that the gum Arabic group had significant reductions in BMI and body fat levels over the six weeks, compared to baseline levels.
Some side effects – notably unfavorable viscous sensation in the mouth, early morning nausea, mild diarrhea and bloating abdomen – were reported by the gum Arabic group, but these were only observed for the first week, said the researchers.
“A recent proposed mechanism by which viscous dietary fibers were found to preserve lean body mass and reduce adiposity is increased mitochondrial biogenesis and fatty acid oxidation by skeletal muscles,” they wrote. “Gum Arabic’s mechanism is not yet fully elucidated, because of a small number of conducted studies.
“This study highlights the effect of gum Arabic on BMI and fat percentage; it would be wise to conduct long-term studies, evaluating complete range of parameters with different groups and doses to elucidate the mechanism of action of gum Arabic on reducing obesity and its prevention.”
Source: Nutrition Journal
2012, 11:111 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-111
“Effects of gum Arabic ingestion on body mass index and body fat percentage in healthy adult females: two-arm randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind trial”
Authors: R. Babiker, T.H. Merghani, K. Elmusharaf, R.M. Badi, F. Lang, A.M. Saeed