Published in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the University of Wisconsin-Madison study came out of the end of a previous larger study the researchers were conducting on holiday weight gain. Among the findings is that CLA increased calorie burning during sleep by an average of 43kcal per subject. However, Cognis says the positive news behind the results has less to do with this calorie-burning and more to do with the adjacent theory that CLA actually prevents weight gain. "What we want to use this study for - from a marketing point of view - is as one more brick in the wall to confirm the effectiveness and safety of CLA," Sharrann Simmons, senior marketing manager with Cognis Nutrition & Health, told NutraIngredients-USA. The German ingredients firm says the study is important in providing insight into the actual physiologic mechanism for CLA activity in reducing body fat. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a fatty acid found primarily in milk, beef, and dairy products. It is best known in the food and supplements market for its effects on body composition, but animal studies have also yielded positive results on its potential to reverse the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. As part of the study, funded by Cognis Nutrition & Health, the researchers recruited 23 subjects from the main CLA efficacy study, who were receiving either four grams per day of 78 percent active CLA isomers or four gram per day of safflower oil. This study was designed to investigate the actual mechanism responsible for CLA-related loss in body fat and was a sub-study derived from a 6 month, human clinical study which showed CLA use was linked to a decrease in weight and fat loss. The metabolic effect on fat oxidation was measured by means of a metabolic chamber in which participants had to stay for 24 hours. "This is one of the very first studies on CLA and fat oxidation that recorded 24-hour data," David Cai, senior scientist at Cognis Health & Nutrition, told NutraIngredients-USA. Prior studies used shorter monitoring periods, lacked metabolic controls and failed to monitor sleeping hours, said Cai. The results revealed the change in fat oxidation during sleep was significantly different in the CLA group with 11 grams more fat oxidized during sleep (8 hours) versus the placebo group. This is equated to an increase of 14 percent in fat oxidation or "fat burning" during sleep versus the placebo group. Cognis is not looking to take the exact study results to the consumer level, but rather to enhance the overall profile and potential for its branded ingredient. "The challenge is how to take this pretty sophisticated study and translate it to the consumer," said Simmons. The next step, according to Cognis, is to get its ingredient into more products and further educate consumers on the potential for Tonalin to prevent weight gain. With new deals around the corner, it predicts its role will be expanding into the functional food arena. "We have multiple active projects to put CLA into functional foods," said Simmons. "We've had interest from mainstream food manufacturers to this into a healthy product." Cognis says Tonalin already has the biggest market share for CLA by far. The manufacturer has licensing agreements with 12 different companies who use the Tonalin trademark in their labeling and with another 30 to 40 companies who use the ingredient in their products. Over 50 percent of Tonalin sales are to the US market, of which approximately 95 percent goes into dietary supplements and another five percent is destined for beverages. "Unlike our other products, we have really tried to position Tonalin as a consumer brand," said Simmons. Approximately one third of Americans are obese and Euromonitor International estimates the US weight management supplements market to be worth $3.93bn. The original University of Wisconsin-Madison study on 'weight creep' was published last year in the International Journal of Obesity. The results indicated that supplementation with CLA during holiday periods, where people are susceptible to increased weight and fat gain, could prevent weight creep and even lead to reductions in body fat. Forty overweight men and women (age 18 to 44, BMI between 25 and 30 kg per sq. m) took part in the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Volunteers were randomly assigned to receive 3.2 grams of CLA or placebo. The researchers measured body composition, resting metabolic rate, and blood chemistries at the start and end of the trial. Dietary intake and physical activity assessments were obtained by self-reporting by the subjects. The researchers found that the subjects taking CLA safely reduced their body fat mass by one kilogram (2.2 lbs) and their body weight by 0.6 kg (1.3 lbs). In comparison, those in the placebo group gained 0.7 kg (1.5 lbs) of body fat mass and 1.1 kg (2.4 lbs) of body weight during the months that are especially problematic for overweight people. Source: Close, Rachel et al. "Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation alters the 6-mo change in fat oxidation during sleep." Am J Clin Nutr 2007; 86:797-804.