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Monosodium glutamate (MSG) intake is associated with the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in a rural Thai population

Tonkla Insawang1, Carlo Selmi23, Ubon Cha’on1*, Supattra Pethlert1, Puangrat Yongvanit1, Premjai Areejitranusorn1, Patcharee Boonsiri1, Tueanjit Khampitak1, Roongpet Tangrassameeprasert1, Chadamas Pinitsoontorn1, Vitoon Prasongwattana1, M Eric Gershwin2 and Bruce D Hammock4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen, 40002, Thailand

2 Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of California at Davis School of Medicine, Davis, CA, USA

3 Clinical Immunology, Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, Milan, Italy

4 Department of Entomology, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, USA

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2012, 9:50  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-9-50

Published: 8 June 2012



Epidemiology and animal models suggest that dietary monosodium glutamate (MSG) may contribute to the onset of obesity and the metabolic syndrome.


Families (n = 324) from a rural area of Thailand were selected and provided MSG as the sole source for the use in meal preparation for 10 days. Three hundred forty-nine subjects aged 35–55 years completed the study and were evaluated for energy and nutrient intake, physical activity, and tobacco smoking. The prevalence of overweight and obesity (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2), insulin resistance (HOMA-IR >3), and the metabolic syndrome (ATP III criteria) were evaluated according to the daily MSG intake.


The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome was significantly higher in the tertile with the highest MSG intake. Further, every 1 g increase in MSG intake significantly increased the risk of having the metabolic syndrome (odds ratio 1.14, 95% confidence interval-CI- 1.12 - 1.28) or being overweight (odds ratio 1.16, 95% CI 1.04 - 1.29), independent of the total energy intake and the level of physical activity.


Higher amounts of individual MSG consumption are associated with the risk of having the metabolic syndrome and being overweight independent of other major determinants.

Functional food; Obesity; Metabolic syndrome; Thailand