According to Health Canada, MSG is safe for most people, although some individuals who consume MSG may exhibit an allergic-type reaction or hypersensitivity that include facial pressure, headache, nausea and chest pains.
In Canada, MSG is considered a flavour-enhancing ingredient, not a food additive. Currently there is no regulatory limit to the amount of MSG that may be added to food in Canada.
To investigate the link between MSG and weight gain, researchers followed more than 10,000 adults in China for about 5.5 years on average.
The researchers measured MSG intake directly by before-and-after weighing of products, such as bottles of soy sauce, to see how much people ate. They also asked people to estimate their intake over three 24-hour periods.
Men and women who ate the most MSG (a median of 5 grams a day) were about 30 percent more likely to become overweight by the end of the study than those who ate the least amount of the flavoring (less than a half-gram a day), the researchers found.
After excluding people who were overweight at the start of the study, the risk rose to 33 percent.
Researchers found that the increased risk wasn't simply because people were eating more food. The link between high MSG intake and being overweight held even after accounting for the total number of calories people ate.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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