Obesity is more prevalent than ever with Australia’s obesity rates currently on par with the US and slightly under New Zealand according to a recent review published by the medical journal The Lancet1. In fact, with just under a third of the population being overweight or obese, it’s fast becoming one of our nations as well as a range of nation’s biggest concerns. For some people however, losing weight can be a little bit more of a difficult process thanks to evidence showing that certain genetic mutations are related to inheritable obesity.
One of these more common genetic mutations is to the Melanocortin 4 Receptor (MC4R), which if defected can result in a person who lacks an appropriate satiety or fullness response and a decline in energy utilisation; all of which can lead to early obesity. While many synthetic drugs are currently being created and tested to help people with this fairly common mutation (1.5-2% of people whose BMI is over 30 has this mutation), none are currently available. However, in the meantime, there might be a way to alter the appetite/satiety response through other means, such as with supplementation of alpha lipoic acid. Without getting too technical with the science, alpha lipoic acid or ALA as it is commonly known helps to reduce appetite via an inhibition of certain signals in the brain.
In other words, ALA is able to mimic a calorie surplus, tricking the brain into thinking that we are full temporarily and therefore decreasing our appetite in response. In fact, one of the most recent studies2 into ALA supplementation showed that those receiving 1,800mg of ALA per day lost on average 2% more weight than those who didn’t have any ALA at all.
Most of us have fairly regular appetite and satiety responses, however for a small but significant group of people; genetic mutations can inhibit our normal responses. While drugs are still being developed to assist in the fight against obesity, in the meantime, if your appetite control and feelings of fullness are in a bit of disarray, there are other options such as supplementing with Alpha Lipoic Acid and exercise. While the weight loss effect of ALA isn’t high, every little bit counts and sometimes all we need is a push in the right direction. If you are looking at supplementing with ALA though, aim to have between 400mg-600mg, 30 minutes before a main meal.1. Ng M et al. ‘Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.’ Lancet. 2014 May 28. pii: S0140-6736(14)60460-8.
2. Koh EH, Lee WJ, Lee SA, Kim EH, Cho EH, Jeong E, Kim DW, Kim MS, Park JY, Park KG, Lee HJ, Lee IK, Lim S, Jang HC, Lee KH, Lee KU. ‘Effects of alpha-lipoic Acid on body weight in obese subjects.’ Am J Med. 2011 Jan;124(1):85.e1-8.