Long chain omega-3 fatty acids (LC n-3 FA) are considered nutritional factors with a potential to modulate food intake. Thus, the aim of the current study was to determine whether appetite could be affected by LC n-3 FA when included in a calorie-restricted diet to treat overweight or obesity.

Appetite was explored in volunteers (31+/-5 years; BMI: 28.3+/-1.5 kg/m(2)) during the last 2 weeks of an 8-week energy-restricted balanced diet (weight loss=-5.9+/-3.1%) providing either a low (<260 mg/day; n=112) or a high amount (>1300 mg/day; n=121) of LC n-3 FA. Erythrocyte membrane fatty acids were measured to detect diet-related changes in fatty acids and a validated visual analogue scale (VAS) was used to measure hunger sensations directly after and 2h after a test dinner. The LC n-3 FA content in erythrocyte membrane was lower in the low LC n-3 FA group (10.5+/-2.5% vs. 12.5+/-2.6%; p<0.001) after the intervention. The VAS assessment revealed lower hunger sensations in the high LC n-3 FA group immediately after the test dinner (fullness: p=0.045) and after 120 min (fullness: p=0.008; hunger: p=0.039). Correlation analysis showed a positive relation between n-3 FA/n-6 FA ratio in erythrocyte membrane and fullness 2h postprandial (r=0.139; p=0.032).

In conclusion, LC n-3 FA intake modulates postprandial satiety in overweight and obese volunteers during weight loss. Further research is needed to investigate whether LC n-3 FA improve compliance to the nutritional treatment of overweight and obesity as well as weight loss maintenance.