Nutrition & Health OnLine Magazine: Latest Research
By Davey Dunn
A randomized controlled trial of a moderate-fat, low-energy diet compared with a low fat, low-energy diet for weight loss in overweight adults.
Long-term success in weight loss with dietary treatment has been elusive. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate a diet moderate in fat based on the Mediterranean diet compared to a standard low-fat diet for weight loss when both were controlled for energy. DESIGN: A randomized, prospective 18 month trial in a free-living population. PATIENTS: A total of 101 overweight men and women (26.5-46 kg/m(2)). INTERVENTION: (1) Moderate-fat diet (35% of energy); (2) low-fat diet (20% of energy). MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS: Change in body weight. RESULTS: After 18 months, 31/50 subjects in the moderate-fat group, and 30/51 in the low fat group were available for measurements. In the moderate-fat group, there were mean decreases in body weight of 4.1 kg, body mass index of 1.6 kg/m(2), and waist circumference of 6.9 cm, compared to increases in the low-fat group of 2.9 kg, 1.4 kg/m(2) and 2.6 cm, respectively; P < or = 0.001 between the groups. The difference in weight change between the groups was 7.0 kg. (95% CI 5.3, 8.7). Only 20% (10/51) of those in the low-fat group were actively participating in the weight loss program after 18 months compared to 54% (27/50) in the moderate-fat group, (P<0.002). The moderate-fat diet group was continued for an additional year. The mean weight loss after 30 months compared to baseline was 3.5 kg (n = 19, P = 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: A moderate-fat, Mediterranean-style diet, controlled in energy, offers an alternative to a low-fat diet with superior long-term participation and adherence, with consequent improvements in weight loss.
COMMENTARY: Low fat diets are important to lose weight and reduce the health risks associated with obesity. The biggest complaint that most people have with low fat diets is the lack of taste in eating such meals. Food choices similar to those found in the Mediterranean part of the World may offer an alternative since they contain higher levels of fat but do not contain a corresponding higher level of saturated fat. This study showed that people could eat a Mediterranean-style diet and still lose weight. This study also showed that people using such a diet were more likely to continue with the diet than those on a traditional low fat regimen. The reason a Mediterranean-style diet works appears to have been beyond the scope of this study but there is not question it has to do with the amount of unsaturated fats contained in oils like Olive oil, which are heavily used in Mediterranean-style meals. To better understand the difference between saturated fats and the unsaturated fats found in oils like Olive oil read the Nutrition & Health OnLine article The Right Fats.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS STUDY? Eating a healthy diet that can promote weight loss is easier than most people think. Choose meals that contain unsaturated fats from oils like Olive Oil or Fish Oil to enjoy a meal that is both healthy and palatable.
McManus K, Antinoro L, Sacks F.   Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord   2001 Oct;25(10):1503-11
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