Safflower oil is a rich source of linoleic acid, but only contains minimal amounts of CLA (about 0.7 mg CLA/g fat). Both main CLA brands on the market (Tonalin from BASF and Clarinol from Stepan Lipid Nutrition) are derived from safflower oil using proprietary processes.
Interest in safflower oil and its potential role in ‘busting belly fat’ boomed following a very high profile segment on the Dr Oz show under the title Safflower Oil to Bust Your Belly, where Montel Williams promoted the effects of the Safslim safflower oil product. Williams is a paid spokesperson for Safslim.
The Safslim website quotes one study to support its claims of 'superiority' - a study with 35 morbidly obese diabetic women (average BMI of 35.7 kg/m2), led by Martha Belury from Ohio State University and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009, Vol. 90, pp. 468–476).
“As demonstrated in the Ohio State University study, safflower oil is superior in attacking belly fat... Safflower oil has been shown in a major university study to help reduce belly fat by up to 9.4%, or 6 times more than the leading omega oil, in only 16 weeks without diet or exercise,” states the Safslim site. Safslim was contacted on June 11 for comment by NutraIngredients-USA, but no response had been received prior to publication.
On another website, the product description is: “Looking for something even better than CLA? Try SAFActive78 high-linoleic safflower oil. A major 16-week university study at Ohio State found that SAF outperformed CLA with a 6.3% reduction of belly fat and a 20.3% increase in adiponectin, an important belly fat hormone that regulates sugars and fat stores.”