Eating less fatty foods can lead to weight loss of 1.6kg
without dieting, according to a major review of studies which
refutes the idea that low-fat diets lead to weight gain.
The review by an international team including a University of
Otago researcher has found that reducing fat intake leads to
weight loss that can be maintained for at least seven years.
The research, published today in the British Medical Journal,
reports that people taking part in trials of consuming less
fat also saw their waist-lines become slimmer, blood pressure
drop and levels of bad cholesterol decrease.
The results prove weight loss can happen without trying to
lose weight, simply by eating a lower fat diet, the report
It was commissioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO)
and the results are expected to be crucial in making global
Report co-author Professor Murray Skeaff, of Otago's
Department of Human Nutrition, says the research provides
"clear evidence refuting the idea that low-fat diets
inherently lead to weight gain".
"The results show convincingly that a lower fat diet helps
control body weight and has favourable effects on other risk
factors for cardiovascular disease. This is a very important
finding," he said.
Professor Skeaff said the research was important because
being overweight or obese increased the risk of many cancers,
coronary heart disease and stroke.
Reductions in total fat were also associated with small but
statistically significant reductions in cholesterol and blood
pressure, suggesting a beneficial effect on other major
cardiovascular risk factors.
The review included results from 33 randomised controlled
trials in North America, Europe and New Zealand, involving
75,589 men, women and children.
Those taking part had varying states of health.
Comparisons were made between those eating less fat than
usual and those eating their usual amount of fat.
The effect on weight and waist line was measured after at
least six months.
The results show that eating less fat reduces body weight by
1.6kg and waist circumference by 0.5cm.
All these effects were in trials in which weight loss was not
the intended outcome, suggesting that they occur in people
with normal diets.
The weight loss happened quickly and was maintained over at
least seven years.
The researchers say that although "it may be difficult for
populations to reduce total fat intake, attempts should be
made to do so, to help control weight".
They said high quality trials were needed to examine the
effect of reducing fat intake on body weight in developing
countries as well as in children.