Monosodium glutamate (MSG) can increase the risk of weight gain and obesity, according to a study published in the August 2008 issue of Obesity.
According to the study, people who use MSG as a food flavour enhancer are more likely to be overweight or obese then those who don't - even with equal amounts of calorie intake and physical activity.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina studied the food preparation habits of more than 750 adults in three rural villages in China.
Among the study participants, 82 percent used MSG in their food - and the participants who used the most MSG were three times more likely to be overweight than people who cooked without MSG.
"We found that prevalence of overweight was significantly higher in MSG users than in non-users," says the study author. "We saw this risk even when we controlled for physical activity, total calorie intake and other possible explanations for the difference in body mass."
Health Canada has concluded that MSG is safe however questions remain over whether it can be considered healthy.
Given that sodium is a component of MSG, people who avoid consuming excessive amounts of sodium may want to reduce their intake of foods prepared with this common flavour enhancer.
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