British Journal of Nutrition

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British Journal of Nutrition (2010), 104:457-463 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © The Authors 2010

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Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Monosodium glutamate is not associated with obesity or a greater prevalence of weight gain over 5 years: findings from the Jiangsu Nutrition Study of Chinese adults

Zumin Shia1a2a3 c1, Natalie D. Luscombe-Marsha4, Gary A. Witterta4, Baojun Yuana1, Yue Daia1, Xiaoqun Pana1 and Anne W. Taylora2a3

a1 Department of Nutrition and Foodborne Disease Prevention, Jiangsu Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 172 Jiangsu Road, Nanjing 210009, China
a2 Population Research and Outcome Studies Unit, South Australian Department of HealthPO Box 287, 11 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
a3 Discipline of Medicine, University of Adelaide, Frome Road, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
a4 Discipline of Medicine and NHMRC Centre of Clinical Research Excellence, University of Adelaide, Frome Road, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
Article author query
shi z [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
luscombe-marsh nd [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
wittert ga [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
yuan b [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
dai y [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
pan x [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]
taylor aw [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


Animal studies and one large cross-sectional study of 752 healthy Chinese men and women suggest that monosodium glutamate (MSG) may be associated with overweight/obesity, and these findings raise public concern over the use of MSG as a flavour enhancer in many commercial foods. The aim of this analysis was to investigate a possible association between MSG intake and obesity, and determine whether a greater MSG intake is associated with a clinically significant weight gain over 5 years. Data from 1282 Chinese men and women who participated in the Jiangsu Nutrition Study were analysed. In the present study, MSG intake and body weight were quantitatively assessed in 2002 and followed up in 2007. MSG intake was not associated with significant weight gain after adjusting for age, sex, multiple lifestyle factors and energy intake. When total glutamate intake was added to the model, an inverse association between MSG intake and 5 % weight gain was found (P = 0·028), but when the model was adjusted for either rice intake or food patterns, this association was abolished. These findings indicate that when other food items or dietary patterns are accounted for, no association exists between MSG intake and weight gain.

(Received September 15 2009)

(Revised February 09 2010)

(Accepted February 10 2010)

(Online publication April 07 2010)

Key Words:Dietary glutamate; Energy intake; Body weight gain; Human studies; Longitudinal studies


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Zumin Shi, fax +61 8 8226 6244, email


Abbreviations: MSG, monosodium glutamate