US-Japan to investigate MSG effects on weight

The US Government and Japanese food manufacturer, Ajinomoto Company, have joined forces in a research project to explore the effects of monosodium glutamate (MSG) on human eating behaviour and body weight management. 

The research, which will be conducted by the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), will assess whether adding MSG to foods in the diets of overweight women facilitates the control of appetite and caloric intake.

Dr Kevin Laugero of ARS said the research would help people better understand and maintain better eating habits.

The research will be based on the science around umami, widely accepted as the fifth basic taste in addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter. 

Glutamate, an amino acid naturally found in many common foods such as tomatoes, cheese, and cured ham, is considered the purest form of umami.

MSG, the sodium salt of glutamate, is used to enhance the savoury flavour of foods. Previous research has shown the potential value of MSG as an aid in reducing dietary sodium.

The US-Japanese research project is expected to be completed in the next two years.