08 February 2006

Total Fat Intake Cuts Have Only Modest Value

Further analysis of a study whose earlier results have previously been discussed at this blog, for its discovery that fat intake reduction without calorie reduction does not lead to weight loss, is now available. The new reports show that simply reducing total fat intake in women's diets also has only moderate benefits.

Women on the low-fat diet who had the highest consumption of fats at the beginning of the study showed the biggest decrease in breast cancer risk. And those who achieved the lowest rate of fat consumption showed the lowest risk of heart disease. And those who reduced fat intake had a lower incidence of polyps, generally considered to be a precursor of colorectal cancer.

The results were not, however, statistically significant in the pool of 50,000 healthy women studied for eight years, although in future years, as the study pool ages, these benefits could nudge above the statistically significant range and show a modest health benefit from a low fat diet for a long period of time.

The study indicates that:

Rather than trying to eat "low-fat," women should focus on reducing saturated fats and trans fats," the so- called "bad" fats, while maintaining their intake of "good" fats, such as vegetable, olive and fish oils. . . Today we know that reducing total fat may not be enough. We need to focus on the types of fat we eat.

In addition:

The study also found that the diet, including more carbohydrates and grains, is safe and healthful - contradicting the claims of proponents of low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins diet, that high carbs increase the risk of diabetes in overweight people.

The women in the study "did not show any signs of diabetes, their triglycerides were normal, and their blood glucose was normal[.]"

The study also is worth noting for those who are interested in the effect of having women in science. This gold standard study wouldn't have happened without the efforts of its principal investigators and sponsors in a part of the National Institute of Health. All of the key players were women.

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