(NaturalNews) For the first time in a scientific study, the use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been linked to weight gain in humans. For years, studies have shown that the flavor enhancer, MSG, is associated with weight gain in animals, but this study, by the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill School of Public Health, has shown that this association applies to human health.
Researchers at UNC teamed up with their counterparts in China to study 752 healthy men and women between the ages of 40 and 59 randomly sampled from three different rural villages in north and south China. The majority of participants prepared their meals at home without the use of commercially processed foods and 82 percent cooked with MSG. The other 18 percent did not use MSG. Of these men and women, three groups were formed based on the amount of MSG they regularly used. The average MSG intake was one third of a gram per day.
The researchers found three times the rate of overweight people in the high MSG-use group compared to the non-users. The use of MSG in the other two groups was positively related to body mass as well. Overall, the groups that used MSG had a higher occurrence of overweight individuals (BMI of 25 or greater) than non-users.
The findings were consistent with data from animal studies in past years.
The researchers were not led astray by such factors as physical activity and total calorie intake; they kept these in mind and controlled for them before finalizing the relationship of MSG with body mass.
It has been difficult to study the potential effect of MSG on humans because most people consume MSG as an ingredient in processed foods, which pose their own problems to health. This study, by choosing participants in rural China who use very little commercially processed food, was able to study the effect of MSG without this interfering factor.