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PLoS One. 2015 Nov 16;10(11):e0142652. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142652. eCollection 2015.

Does Fish Oil Have an Anti-Obesity Effect in Overweight/Obese Adults? A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.

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Department of Endocrinology, Shanghai Xin Hua Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.



Accumulating evidence has suggested favorable effects of fish oil on weight loss in animal experiments; however, findings remain inconsistent in humans.


The meta-analysis was performed to investigate the influence of fish oil on some parameters of body composition in overweight/obese adults.


Human randomized, placebo-controlled trials were identified by a systematic search of Embase, PubMed, the Cochrane Library, web of science and reference lists of related reviews and articles. The random-effects model was used to estimate the calculated results.


In total, 21 studies with 30 study arms were included in this analysis. Calculated results of the meta-analysis demonstrated that fish oil had no effect on reducing body weight (overall SMD = -0.07, 95% CI -0.21 to 0.07, P = 0.31) and BMI (overall SMD = -0.09, 95% CI -0.22 to 0.03, P = 0.14) whether alone or combined with life modification intervention in overweight/obese subjects. However, waist circumference was significantly reduced (SMD = -0.23, 95% CI -0.40 to -0.06, P = 0.008) in those with fish oil supplementation combined with life modification intervention. Waist hip ratio (WHR) was significantly reduced (overall SMD = -0.52 95% CI -0.76 to -0.27, P < 0.0005) in fish oil supplemented individuals with or without combination life modification intervention.


Current evidence cannot support an exact anti-obesity role of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in overweight/obese subjects. However, these subjects may benefit from reducing abdominal fat with fish oil supplementation especially when combined with life modification intervention. Further large-scale and long-term clinical trials are needed to gain definite conclusions.

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