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Researchers Link MSG to Weight Gain, Obesity

Elizabeth Renter
February 24th, 2013
Updated 05/21/2014 at 1:14 am
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obesefat1 265x165 Researchers Link MSG to Weight Gain, ObesityMonosodium glutamate is a food additive used in many foods to enhance taste, but this additive is also toxic. Known as an excitotoxin – which ‘excites’ the cells of the body into overproducing a particular chemical, thus burning them out prematurely – MSG is thrown in everything from Ramen noodles to potato chips, all to “enhance” the flavors in these quasi-foods. But while MSG is said to improve taste, it has many—more sinister—effects. Many people know that MSG can sometimes be blamed for headaches and possibly even ADHD, but the link to obesity often goes unrecognized.

From animal research to studies in humans, scientists have consistently demonstrated that there is a link between the consumption of MSG and obesity.

In Spain, researchers found that rats who eat MSG experience an increase in appetite of 40%. This is dramatic. And because the food’s flavors are enhanced, there’s a good chance that humans are eating more of them too.

But more than just tasting good, some scientists have suggested that MSG actually interferes with leptin, responsible for controlling our appetites. One study showed that those people who eat the most MSG also have the most leptin, perhaps creating an environment of leptin resistance, or one where the appetite becomes more or less uncontrollable.

Interestingly, MSG could be causing obesity even without increased food consumption. The link between MSG and weight gain or obesity holds true even when excess calories are accounted for.

In the United States, it’s estimated that the average person consumes about a half a gram of MSG daily, and for many sensitive people, this is enough to trigger a migraine. But, it’s minimal when compared with the amount consumed in some Asian countries. It’s estimated in countries like Japan that MSG consumption is anywhere from 1.5 to 10 grams per day.

Studies in these countries have found a similar link between MSG and obesity. The reason we don’t see Asian countries with obesity rates comparable to ours, scientists surmise, is because they are more active and have a (generally) better diet.

Sicne producers aren’t always transparent with MSG’s inclusion in food products (shocker, I know), it may be tricky to reduce MSG consumption. Check the ingredients for inclusions like: glutamate, glutamic acid, gelatin, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, whey protein, textured protein, yeast extract, autolyzed yeast, and more. Better yet, to ensure you aren’t getting MSG, don’t eat processed foods at all.

Additional Sources:


American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


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  • Linda

    MSG-Induced Obesity:
    MSG is actually injected into laboratory rats to induce obesity. There are many many scientific studies done using these MSG treated rats since rats are not naturally overweight. It also has been shown to increase appetite in male rats and to induce obesity in female rats and chickens. Scientists in Spain have recently concluded that MSG when given to mice increase appetite by as much as 40%.
    Linda — VLCNW Student

  • james228

    i am not really fond of MSGs… i have already lived my life without it that i can tell if a dish has it or not. And the fact that it doesn't really affect the flavor of the food itself it just tricks the mind to believe that the food is delicious.

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  • SlimFit

    Common fat people are dying to eat more fat, more sugar.Therefore, in order to avoid obesity, it is best to seriously limited in the use of fresh water, sugar and fried, fried

  • Vicky

    MSG makes me swell with fluid that can take days of diuretics to reverse. Unfortunately so does alcohol. MSG is flavour inhancer number E621 and is in obvious processed foods such as instant noodles but most potato chips or snacks that are chicken or BBQ "flavoured" contain MSG. Most powdered stocks are also full of it. Some soy sauces also contain it so when your local Asian takeaway says "no added MSG" they just mean they dont use the MSG powder. It is still present in cheaper soy sauce that they use for cooking.

    • Vicky

      Oh and its also used to tenderise meat. If you buy meat that is in a marinade or is particularly tender ie it really does 'melt' in your mouth when cooked, its probably MSG.

  • bertie

    msg makes me very restless – late night snack with it in and no sleep – gauranteed.

  • dee

    There are so many fat asians.

  • Franky Freedom

    And you thought the chef at the Chinese restaurant added MSG to pleasure your palette? More likely they do it so you'll buy additional helpings. MSG is a neurotoxin which excites/stimulates the regions of the brain responsible for appetite regulation and more studies are finding that the ultimate effect is to reduce your control over your own appetite so you will give in more easily to cravings. Just another reason why you can't eat just one potato chip.