Nutrition Research Reviews

Review Article

Is the use of resveratrol in the treatment and prevention of obesity premature?

Wendy J. van der Spuya1 and Etheresia Pretoriusa1 c1

a1 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Obesity is a multi-faceted disease, predisposing sufferers to numerous co-morbidities such as epithelial dysfunction and insulin resistance which ultimately result in CVD. Visceral adipose tissue in particular is associated with inflammation due to the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines by adipocytes. Inflammation seems to be rather central in causing damage to endothelial cells as well as exerting negative effects on glucose metabolism, ultimately leading to insulin resistance. Resveratrol is a naturally occurring phenolic substance which has been found to display anti-inflammatory, vasoprotective and insulin-sensitising effects, among others. The popularity of resveratrol use is escalating in the treatment of various ailments including obesity in adults. The use of the substance in childhood obesity is, however, a worrying factor, as no studies have as yet been performed on adolescent animals and there is evidence of kidney toxicity of resveratrol and its metabolites at intake levels below those currently approved as safe. Another cause for concern is the uncertainty surrounding long-term, low-dose administration of the substance in humans. The supplement should thus not be recommended for use in the prevention and treatment of obesity until conclusive research is established on the safety of long-term usage of resveratrol in both children and adults.


c1 Corresponding author: Dr E. Pretorius, fax +27 12 319 2240, email