A team of researchers from the University of South Australia studied 68 obese and overweight people who were at risk of cardiovascular disease and showed signs of metabolic syndrome, which often results in diabetes. The subjects were split into four groups: The first consumed fish oil and walked or ran for 45 minutes, three times a week; the second only consumed fish oil and did not exercise; the third consumed sunflower oil, which does not contain omega-3s, and exercised; and the fourth group only consumed sunflower oil and did not exercise.
The researchers found that the only group that lost any weight at all was the first group, which exercised and took fish oils, resulting in an average weight loss of 4.5 pounds over three months. The other three groups experienced no weight loss at all.
"If you take the omega-3 each day and exercise moderately, our studies show your weight will drop," says researcher Alison Hill, a PhD student. "We were very surprised to see it was so effective, especially since these people were still eating whatever they wanted."
As world levels of obesity reach epidemic levels, overweight and obese people can easily drop a few pounds by eating fish oils -- but only when combined with moderate exercise, as the oil itself doesn't automatically lead to weight loss. An added incentive to consume fish oils and exercise is the marked change in body shape and composition that the researchers noted in the successful weight loss group.
Foods rich in omega-3s include fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, halibut and tuna, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts.