Science constantly seeks to identify new molecules that could be used as dietary functional ingredients in the fight against obesity and its co-morbidities. Among them, polyphenols represent a group of molecules of increasing interest. One of the most widely studied polyphenols is resveratrol (trans
-3,4′,5-trihydroxystilbene), which has been proposed as an “energy restriction mimetic” because it can exert energy restriction-like effects. The aim of this review is to analyze the effects of resveratrol on obesity under different feeding conditions, such as overfeeding, normal feeding, and energy restriction, in animals and humans. The vast majority of the studies reported have addressed the administration of resveratrol to animals alongside an obesogenic diet. Under these experimental conditions usually a decreased body weight amount was found. To date, studies that focus on the effects of resveratrol under normal feeding or energy restriction conditions in animals and humans are scarcer. In these studies no changes in body fat were reported. After analyzing the results obtained under overfeeding, normal feeding, and energy restriction conditions, it can be stated that resveratrol is useful in reducing body fat accumulation, and thus preventing obesity. Nevertheless, for ethical reasons, these results have been obtained in animals. By contrast, there are no evidences showing the usefulness of this phenolic compound in reducing previously accumulated body fat. Consequently, as of yet, there is not scientific support for proposing resveratrol as a new anti-obesity treatment tool.
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