Introduction. This is an open-label pilot study on four weeks of virgin coconut oil (VCO) to investigate its efficacy in weight reduction and its safety of use in 20 obese but healthy Malay volunteers. Methodology. Efficacy was assessed by measuring weight and associated anthropometric parameters and lipid profile one week before and one week after VCO intake. Safety was assessed by comparing organ function tests one week before and one week after intake of VCO. Paired t-test was used to analyse any differences in all the measurable variables. Results. Only waist circumference (WC) was significantly reduced with a mean reduction of 2.86 cm or 0.97% from initial measurement (P = .02). WC reduction was only seen in males (P< .05). There was no change in the lipid profile. There was a small reduction in creatinine and alanine transferase levels. Conclusion. VCO is efficacious for WC reduction especially in males and it is safe for use in humans.
Developing countries including many Asian countries catch up rapidly in the prevalence of obesity with higher health risks at a lower body mass index (BMI). The latest report from Malaysian Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) surveillance in 2007 demonstrated that among the adult males, 30.9% were overweight and 13.9% were obese, whereas among adult females, 32.4% were overweight and 18.8% were obese (the results were based on BMI [greater than or equal to] 25 kg/[m.sup.2] for overweight and BMI [greater than or equal to] 30 kg/[m.sup.2] for obese) . The modernization of society with reduced levels of physical activity and increased dietary intake of carbohydrate and highly saturated fat accounted for the rapid growth in obesity epidemic. The fat accumulating in the abdomen, known as visceral adiposity was associated with increased cardiovascular risk, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia [2, 3]. Waist circumference (WC), BMI, and waist-hip ratio (WHR) are useful surrogate anthropometric markers for general and visceral adiposity [4-6].
Coconut (Cocos Nucifera) is commonly used in Malaysia and other neighbouring countries including Thailand and Philippines as a food source and its oils are used as complementary medicine. The oil extracted from fresh coconut meat (virgin coconut oil) contains more medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) (70-85%) (Table 1)compared to other coconut oils . MCFAs are easily oxidized lipids and are not stored in adipose tissue unlike long chain fatty acids (LCFAs). Thus, coconut oil containing mainly MCFAs with little or no LCFAs may provide an ideal food source for weight reduction [8, 9]. Furthermore, epidemiologic studies coming from the African and South Pacific populations whose diets contain coconuts have revealed no association between coconut oil ingestion and obesity or dyslipidemia [10, 11]. Therefore, we conducted this open label pilot study to determine the efficacy of VCO on weight reduction, anthropometric parameters, and lipid profile in obese healthy volunteers and to assess for its safety by evaluating changes in biochemistry and organ functions.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Subjects. Free living volunteers above the age of 20 years within the university compound (Universiti Sains Malaysia or USM) were screened...