Adding a plant extract to the diet of primates has been found to reduce their body weight by increasing their metabolic rate and reducing their energy intake.
The extract, called Resveratrol, is found in some plants such as grapes. It is produced by the plant to help it defend itself against attack by fungus and bacteria. Previous studies have suggested that it may have beneficial health effects ([see this story about resveratrol in red wine for instance] (/secret-of-red-wine-health-benefits-uncovered.htm)].
In this new study scientists added resveratrol as a supplement to the diet of a group of mouse lemurs (which are small primates related to monkeys) for a period of four weeks.
They found that over this period the animals reduced their food intake and increased their body’s metabolic rate, resulting in a decrease in body weight.
Study leader Fabienne Aujard of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris commented that : “The physiological benefits of resveratrol are currently under intensive investigation, with recent work suggesting that it could be a good candidate for the development of obesity therapies. We’ve found that lemurs eating a diet supplemented with the compound decreased their energy intake by 13% and increased their resting metabolic rate by 29%.”
The animals’ body temperatures were also significantly affected during the trial. Aujard further noted that “These results provide novel information on the potential effects of resveratrol on energy metabolism and control of body mass in a primate.”
The results of the study are published in the open access journal BMC Physiology.