BACKGROUNDDietary n-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3-PUFA) have been shown to reduce body weight and fat mass in rodents as well as in humans in one small short-term study. We conducted this controlled randomized dietary trial to test the hypothesis that n-3-PUFA lower body weight and fat mass by reducing appetite and ad libitum food intake and/or by increasing energy expenditure.METHODSTwenty-six overweight or moderately obese (body mass index 28-33 kg/m²) men and women were included, and received either a diet rich in n-3-PUFA from both plant and marine sources or a control diet. Diets were administered in an isocaloric fashion for 2 weeks followed by 12 weeks of ad libitum intake. The n-3-PUFA and control diets were identical in all regards except for the fatty acid composition. All foods were provided to subjects, and leftovers were weighed back to assess actual food intake accurately for each day of the study. This design gave us 80% power to detect a difference in weight change between the n-3-PUFA and control diet groups of 2.25 kg at an α-error level of 5%.RESULTSBoth groups lost similar amounts of weight when these diets were consumed ad libitum for 12 weeks [mean (SD): -3.5 (3.7) kg in the control group vs. -2.8 (3.7) kg in the n-3-PUFA group, F(₁,₂₄) = 13.425, p = 0.001 for time effect; F(₁,₂₄) = 0.385, p = 0.541 for time x group interaction]. Consistent with this finding, we also found no differences between the n-3-PUFA and control groups with regard to appetite as measured by visual analogue scale, ad libitum food intake, resting energy expenditure as measured by indirect calorimetry, diurnal plasma leptin concentrations, or fasting ghrelin concentrations.CONCLUSIONOur results suggest that dietary n-3-PUFA do not play an important role in the regulation of food intake, energy expenditure, or body weight in humans.