Obesity remains one of the most serious global problems in the twenty-first century, with at least 2.8 million individuals dying each year from diseases caused by being overweight or obese. In addition, 44% of the diabetes burden, 23% of the ischemic heart disease burden, and between 7% and 41% of certain cancer burdens are attributable to overweight and obesity.
Changing dietary habits and lifestyles have resulted in energy-dense meals with decreasing physical activity, resulting in increased obesity rates.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) may counteract fat deposition in adipocytes by increasing thermogenesis and satiety. The MCTs contain 8 to 12 carbon atoms and include caprylic acid (C8:0, octanoic acid), capric acid (C10:0, decanoic acid), and lauric acid (C12:0, dodecanoic acid).
Foods high in MCTs include coconut oil (58%), palm kernel oil (54%), desiccated coconut (37%), and raw coconut meat (19%) (US Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database).
One meta-analysis suggests that consuming Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) as part of a diet compared with long-chain triacylglycerols (LCTs) may result in a small average reduction in body weight of 0.51 kg (range= 0.80 to 0.23 kg) over an average 10-week period. Waist and hip circumferences, total body fat, subcutaneous fat, and visceral fat were also significantly reduced and no changes were seen in TG, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol when dietary MCT was compared with LCT.
Although the reduction in body weight was small, it may be clinically relevant. When body weight is decreased by 1 kg, the associated risk of developing diabetes is reduced by 16%.
If weight loss attributes are confirmed for MCT, its incorporation into the diet could have important clinical applications for healthy body weight management.
MCTs may be included into the diet through the development of food products, such as oils, where proportions of LCT are replaced with MCT for commercial and domestic use or weight loss products (eg, meal replacements). The availability of modern fat technologies enables the production of food products containing higher amounts of MCT that are suitable for cooking and other purposes.