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Citrus Chemical Prevents Obesity in Mice

Researchers have reported that a particular flavonoid (naringenin) derived from citrus fruit shows promise for preventing weight gain and other signs of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a group of metabolic risk factors present in one person. These risk factors include abdominal obesity, blood fat disorders, elevated blood pressure, and insulin resistance or glucose intolerance. In the current study, one group of mice was fed a high-fat (western) diet to induce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. A second group was fed the exact same diet and treated with naringenin. Naringenin corrected the elevations in triglyceride and cholesterol, prevented the development of insulin resistance, and completely normalized glucose metabolism. The researchers found that naringenin worked by genetically reprogramming the liver to burn up excess fat, rather than store it. "Furthermore, the marked obesity that develops in these mice was completely prevented by naringenin," said Dr. Murray Huff, senior author of the study. "What was unique about the study was that the effects were independent of caloric intake, meaning the mice ate exactly the same amount of food and the same amount of fat. There was no suppression of appetite or decreased food intake, which are often the basis of strategies to reduce weight gain and its metabolic consequences,” Dr. Huff said. "These studies show naringenin, through its insulin-like properties, corrects many of the metabolic disturbances linked to insulin resistance and represents a promising therapeutic approach for metabolic syndrome.” It should be noted that while grapefruit has long been linked to weight loss diets, the concentrations of the naringenin being studied in this research are at higher levels than one could get from dietary components. The naringenin study was published online on July 10 in Diabetes. [Press release] [Diabetes abstract]