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Low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet not associated with weight gain in postmenopausal women

In a clinical trial of over 48,000 post-menopausal women, a low-fat diet that includes increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is not associated with weight gain over an average of 7.5 years, according to a study in the January 4 issue of JAMA.

The prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased dramatically during the past several decades, according to background information in the article. A number of popular diet books have suggested that increasing obesity may be attributed to the diets recommended for chronic disease prevention by various national health organizations, specifically, diets that are lower in total and saturated fat and high in carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains or fiber-rich foods. Proponents of the popular alternative diets have claimed that the higher proportion of carbohydrates in the standard diets may promote weight gain.

Barbara V. Howard, Ph.D., of the MedStar Research Institute, Washington, D.C., and colleagues examined long-term data on the relationships between weight changes and specific changes in dietary components and macronutrient composition. The data were from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification Trial, which was designed to examine the long-term benefits and risks of a dietary pattern low in fat, with increased vegetable, fruit, and grain intake, on breast and colorectal cancers and cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. Between 1993 and 1998, 48,835 postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to either a low-fat dietary intervention or self-selected dietary control group. The data included body measurements and nutrient data through August 31, 2004, with an average follow-up of 7.5 years. Forty percent (19,541) of the participants were randomized to the intervention and 60 percent (29,294) to a control group. The intervention included group and individual sessions to promote a decrease in fat intake and increases in vegetable, fru
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Contact: Barbara V. Howard, Ph.D.
301-560-7303
JAMA and Archives Journals
3-Jan-2006


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