An imbalance in polyunsaturated fatty acids in the body, when excessive Omega 6 (linoleic acid) and less Omega 3 (alpha-linoleic acid) are absorbed from food, can lead to obesity, according to French researchers.

Gérard Ailhaud of Université de Nice-Sophia in Antipolis , France made the findings after an experiment using laboratory mice introduced to a Western-style diet.  The findings were published on the website of the Journal of Lipid Research.

The body does not produce Omega 6 and Omega 3. Omega 6 normally comes from maize consumed by farmed animals that are eaten by humans. Omega 3 comes from mackerel, sardines, salmon, rapeseed, linseed and grass. Omega 6 is good for combating hypercholesterolemia while Omega 3 promotes cerebral function.

According to Ailhaud, the rise in obesity in Western societies over the past 40 years were attributable to a diet high in calories and Omega 6 but low in Omega 3.

The French Food Safety Agency sets the ideal Omega 6-Omega 3 ratio to 5:1. However, Ailhaud found that consumption of these fatty acids are in the 15:1 ratio.