OBESITY, an excessive accumulation of fat, has become a global health concern all over the world. It has been associated with degenerative diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension and some psychological issues like bias and discrimination.
The World Health Organization says that obesity is a chronic and severe disease in developed and developing countries, affecting both adults and children. The amount of fat in the body is measured by the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is the ratio of one body weight and square of the height. The higher the BMI, the greater the risk of developing additional health problems.
A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy; 25 to 29 is overweight, while a BMI of 29.1 and above is obese. Obesity can be a result of genetics, physical inactivity, overeating, taking high-calorie diets, diseases such as hypothyroidism, psychological factors as well as certain medications.
Recent research data suggest that the global incidence of obesity has increased more than 75 percent since 1980, while in the last 20 years, it has tripled in developing countries, particularly in low-income countries. More than 1.1 billion adults are overweight, of which 312 million are obese.
In Nigeria, the prevalence of overweight individuals range from 20.3 percent to 35.1 percent, while the prevalence of obesity ranges from 8.1 percent to 22.2 percent.
Certain medications such as Orlistat, Phentermine, Lorcaserin and Topramate are used to treat obesity. These drugs have been presented with severe adverse effects such as abdominal pain, flatulence, allergic reactions, dizziness, fatigue, constipation and headache.
Now, researchers say a good alternative to medications to treat obesity such as Orlistat to avoid adverse effects such as abdominal pain, flatulence and allergic reactions are Chrysophyllum albidum and Irvingia gabonensis leaves. It was in the journalFood and Nutrition Sciences.
They said that treatment of the obese rats with leaf extracts of Chrysophyllum albidum and Irvingia gabonensis resulted in significant cholesterol lowering and anti-obesity effects that were comparable with the reference anti-obesity drug, Orlistat globally approved for long-term use.
In folklore medicine, the bark of Chrysophyllum albidum, commonly called star apple, is used in treating yellow fever and malaria. The leaf is used for providing relief from stomach ache and diarrhea. Similarly, Irvingia gabonensis, also called African mango, oro or ogbono, has several medicinal uses. The stem bark is ingested in order to treat hernia, yellow fever and diarrhea.
This study investigated the anti-obesity effect of methanol extract of leaves of Chrysophyllum albidum and Irvingia gabonensis in high fat diet-fed rats. Male Wistar rats were fed a high fat diet for eight weeks to induce obesity.
Rats in different groups were thereafter treated with extracts of Chrysophyllum albidum (250 and 500 mg/kg; p.o), Irvingia gabonensis (250 and 500 mg/kg; p.o) or the reference anti-obesity drug (orlistat®; 20 mg/kg, p.o) for four weeks. Body weight, body mass index (BMI) and Lee’s index were recorded.
Following sacrifice of the rats, weight of body tissues with fat deposit, fat and cholesterol levels in the blood measured and the state of the heart, kidney and liver were assessed.
Obese rats treated with Chrysophyllum albidum, Irvingia gabonensis or Orlistat showed normal body weights. Weights of fat deposited, BMI and Lee’s index were comparable with those in the fat rats fed a normal diet.
Also, serum (the part of blood that doesn’t clot) analysis showed that Orlistat and extracts-treated rats had restored lipid profile, liver, kidney and heart function parameters in contrast with the untreated high fat diet fed obese group.
Furthermore, liver and kidney of orlistat and extracts-treated groups showed normal architecture while those of the untreated high fat diet group showed inflammation and fatty liver disease.
Findings from the study suggest that methanol extracts of Chrysophyllum albidum and Irvingia gabonensis leaves have anti-obesity and anti-hyperlipidaemic properties.
Comparatively, extract of Irvingia gabonensis appeared to be a better suppressor of body fat deposition than extract of Chrysophyllum albidum.
Also, the intake of Chrysophyllum albidum and I. gabonensis extracts did not affect food intake, and was consistent with findings from the Orlistat-treated group. The extracts probably produced anti-obesity effects, in a high fat diet (HFD)-induced obese rat model, without affecting the appetite.
Prior to the anti-obesity study, the toxicity of the extracts was tested in Wistar rats. Results showed that both extracts were well tolerated by the rats even at the higher doses and no deaths were recorded in any group.
According to the researchers, “Comparatively, Irvingia gabonensis extract was more effective in ameliorating obesity than the extract of Chrysophyllum albidum.
These observations support and encourage further evaluation of Chrysophyllum albidum and Irvingia gabonensis leaf extracts as an alternative therapeutic remedy for obesity.
Previously, herbs proven to have weight loss effects as well as reduce fat absorption include green tea, Momordica charantia (bitter melon), Garcinia cambogia, Nigella sativa, Zingiber officinales (ataile), cloves, lemon and Rau wolfia vomitaria (Asofeyeje). In addition, Carallum afimbriata, flaxseed, spinach, and fenugreek were able to reduce appetite.