The commonly used food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) has been linked to obesity and disorders associated with the metabolic syndrome including progressive liver disease.
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food has identified MSG as a critical factor in the initiation of obesity in mice. The study also showed that a calorie restricted diet was unable to prevent MSG-initiated obesity but could slow the progression of related liver disease.
Led by Makoto Fujimoto from the University of Toyama, the team monitored the weight gain and development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and its progression to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in MSG-treated mice fed either a calorie-restricted or regular diet.
“Although MSG has been deemed a safe food additive, its dosage, interaction with other drugs, effects on vulnerable populations, and effects on chronic inflammatory diseases and neurological diseases are unknown,” says Sampath Parthasarathy, co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Medicinal Food who was not involved in the study. “The findings by Fujimoto and his team may have far reaching implications, as childhood obesity is a major problem across the globe.”