Omega-3 fatty acids in obesity and metabolic syndrome: a mechanistic update

Kembra Albracht-Schulte, Nishan Sudheera Kalupahana, Latha Ramalingam, Shu Wang, Shaikh Mizanoor Rahman, Jacalyn Robert-McComb, Naima Moustaid-Moussa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

207 Citations (Scopus)


Strategies to reduce obesity have become public health priorities as the prevalence of obesity has risen in the United States and around the world. While the anti-inflammatory and hypotriglyceridemic properties of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) are well known, their antiobesity effects and efficacy against metabolic syndrome, especially in humans, are still under debate. In animal models, evidence consistently suggests a role for n-3 PUFAs in reducing fat mass, particularly in the retroperitoneal and epididymal regions. In humans, however, published research suggests that though n-3 PUFAs may not aid weight loss, they may attenuate further weight gain and could be useful in the diet or as a supplement to help maintain weight loss. Proposed mechanisms by which n-3 PUFAs may work to improve body composition and counteract obesity-related metabolic changes include modulating lipid metabolism; regulating adipokines, such as adiponectin and leptin; alleviating adipose tissue inflammation; promoting adipogenesis and altering epigenetic mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Adipocytes
  • Fish oil
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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