In a study on lemurs, researchers found that resveratrol-known as dietary supplement for its supposed life-extending effects-could result in significant weight loss in these primates.
This is the first time that the anti-obesity properties of resveratrol have been demonstrated in a primate.
The compound is generated naturally by plants to ward off pathogens.
Fabienne Aujard, from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France, worked with a team of researchers to investigate the effect of dietary supplementation with resveratrol on the weight, metabolism and energy intake of six mouse lemurs.
"The physiological benefits of resveratrol are currently under intensive investigation, with recent work suggesting that it could be a good candidate for the development of obesity therapies. We've found that lemurs eating a diet supplemented with the compound decreased their energy intake by 13% and increased their resting metabolic rate by 29pct," she said.
The researchers demonstrated that a four-week resveratrol supplementation was associated with a decrease in food intake and a reduction in seasonal body-mass gain.
The response to resveratrol supplementation also involved significant changes in the animals' body temperatures.
"These results provide novel information on the potential effects of resveratrol on energy metabolism and control of body mass in a primate," said Aujard.
The study is published in the open access journal BMC Physiology.