The results showed that regular intake of 30 gm /day GA for six weeks resulted in significant reduction in BMI and body fat percentage (P<0.0001) ,Changes in body weight were reported to occur with many other fibers intake whether the fiber is obtained from naturally high-fiber diet or when it is ingested in a form of a supplement [27
The US Food and Drug Administration consider Gum Arabic (GA) as one of the safest dietary fibres [28
]. In this study 60 healthy female volunteers consumed GA without doubt as many Sudanese used to ingest GA for both health benefits and nutritional purposes. Females were selected as they are more concerned with aspects of their apperarance, particularly weight [29
]. The effects of GA on BMI and fat percentage were studied among these females.
Gum Arabic consumption seems to be an effective dietary strategy to prevent or treat overweight with its several biological mechanisms [17
], Obesity is a worldwide problem that is associated with many complications. Even though regular exercise and dieting are effective and non-invasive measures used for its treatment, compliance to these measures is limited [30
]. The role of dietary fibers in prevention and treatment of obesity has been studied in both humans and animals [27
]. Although Gum Arabic influence on energy intake and body weight regulation remains controversial. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that GA ingestion causes significant reduction in caloric intake with an increased subjective feeling of satiety [32
Many studies suggested a strong positive correlation between blood leptin concentration, BMI and intake of dietary fiber, On the other hand, serum leptin concentrations were not related to dietary patterns in the US population [33
] and no significant correlation was found between leptin and dietary fiber [34
In addition to these effects, dietary fibers including GA bind bile acids and diminish their absorption in the terminal ileum [35
]. Then in the large intestine, degradation of GA releases the sequestered bile acids and the acidic pH generated during the fermentation process renders them insoluble and promotes their excretion in stool [35
]. This reduces their pool in the body and causes decreased fat digestion and absorption. Similarly, the hepatic formation of new bile acids requires cholesterol. Thus, prolonged ingestion of Gum Arabic may cause weight loss and reduction in cholesterol level in plasma
In our study the effect reflected by a reduction in body weight by 1.24% from 72.25 to 71.43 ± 1.94 (mean ± SD) within the study group. A recent proposed mechanism by which viscous dietary fibers were found to preserve lean body mass and reduce adiposity is increased mitochondrial biogenesis and fatty acid oxidation by skeletal muscles [36
]. Gum Arabic mechanism is not yet fully elucidated, because of a small number of conducted studies. This study highlights the effect of gum Arabic on BMI and fat %; it would be wise to conduct a long-term studies, evaluating complete range of parameters with different groups and doses to elucidate the mechanism of action of GA on reducing obesity and its prevention.
Previous studies have shown that a daily dose of 30 g of GA can be tolerated by most subjects and the main complaint was excessive flatulence [37
]. However, this complaint was found to be mild, even at doses >50 g/day. In our study symptoms were only experienced in the first week of supplementation and disappeared later. Unfavorable viscous sensation in the mouth was the main complaint; however, addition of a flavor to GA solution, as practiced by many of the volunteers, was found to be useful. Diarrhea which was reported by 90% of cases could be the result of increased intestinal motility due to the increase in bulk of stool. It is worth noting that previous studies described GA as a treatment rather than a cause of diarrhea [38
One of the limitations in our study is not measuring blood leptin concentration, due to resource limitation. Another major limitation in this study is the high dose of GA ingested daily by students in the group of cases compared with the low dose of the placebo taken by the controls. However, our results do confirm that regular ingestion of GA causes significant reduction of body mass index and body fat percentage among subjects. This effect can be considered for treatment or prevention of obesity.