Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Foods, nutrients or whole diets: effects of targeting fish and LCn3PUFA consumption in a 12mo weight loss trial

Linda C Tapsell*, Marijka J Batterham, Karen E Charlton, Elizabeth P Neale, Yasmine C Probst, Jane E O’Shea, Rebecca L Thorne, Qingsheng Zhang and Jimmy Chun Yu Louie

Author Affiliations

Smart Foods Centre, University of Wollongong, Northfields Avenue, Wollongong NSW 2522, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1231  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1231

Published: 26 December 2013



There is some evidence in the literature that emphasising fish consumption may assist with weight loss. The aim was to assess the effects of advice to consume 2 fish meals per week in a weight loss diet.


A parallel randomised placebo-controlled trial was conducted in 118 obese Australian adults (mean BMI ± SD 31.3 ± 3.5 kg/m2; mean age ± SD 45 ± 10 y; 28% male). Participants received low calorie dietary advice + placebo (1 g olive oil; Control), low calorie dietary advice emphasising fish + placebo (Fish), or low calorie dietary advice emphasising fish diet + LCn3PUFA supplements (Fish + S). Individualised advice targeted 2 MJ energy deficit (30%E fat, 45%E carbohydrate and 25%E protein) with or without two servings (180 g) fatty fish/wk.


All groups lost weight at 12 months (Control −4.5 kg vs. Fish −4.3 kg vs. Fish + S −3.3 kg; p < 0.001) and percentage body fat (Control: -1.5% vs. Fish: -1.4% vs. Fish + S: -0.7%; p < 0.001) but there were no significant differences between groups. Cardiovascular disease risk factors changed as expected from weight loss.


Advice to consume 2 fish meals per week did not enhance the effects on weight loss of a healthy low calorie diet.

Trial registration


Randomised controlled trial; LCn-3PUFA; Fish; Weight loss