Could MSG Affect Your Waistline?

Medically reviewed in October 2021

Heard about the unpleasant reactions some people may have to monosodium glutamate (MSG)? Well, here's another potential drawback: weight gain.

In a Chinese study, people who used the most MSG in their home-prepared meals were much more likely to be overweight or obese compared to the people who didn't use the seasoning at all.

Demystifying MSG
MSG is a salt made from glutamic acid. It's used to heighten the taste of sweet and salty things, and restaurants add it to everything from salad dressings to stir-fries. MSG is also found in lunch meats and other prepackaged and canned foods. Still, if you're thinking that MSG eaters simply weigh more because they eat more, here's the scoop. In the study, weight differences between MSG abusers and nonusers held true regardless of each group's overall calorie intake and exercise habits. Food for thought . . .

Why the Weight?
This was one of the first human studies to investigate whether MSG might affect weight, so more research is needed to confirm the results. But researchers theorize that MSG might mess with the workings of an important appetite hormone called leptin; it's the hormone that delivers the "I'm full" message. (Find out what type of fat makes you more apt to overeat.)

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