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November 8, 1995

Body Weight and Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Changes After Consumption of a Low-Fat Ad Libitum Diet

Author Affiliations

From the Lipid Metabolism Laboratory (Drs E. Schaefer, Lichtenstein, Lamon-Fava, M. Schaefer, and Ordovas, and Ms McNamara), Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University; the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, and Molecular Medicine, New England Medical Center (Dr E. Schaefer); and the Department of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass (Dr E. Schaefer).

JAMA. 1995;274(18):1450-1455. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530180044028

Objective.  —To assess the effects of a diet restricted in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, under weight-maintenance and ad libitum conditions on body weight and plasma lipid levels in hypercholesterolemic subjects.

Design.  —Dietary intervention study.

Setting and Participants.  —Twenty-seven free-living, healthy middle-aged and elderly men (n=13, age range, 41 to 81 years) and women (n=14, age range, 52 to 79 years) with moderate hypercholesterolemia (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-C] ≥3.36 mmol/L [130 mg/dL]) participated in the study.

Intervention.  —Subjects underwent three dietary phases. First, subjects were provided with a diet similar to the average US diet (baseline diet; 35.4% total fat, 13.8% to 14.1% saturated fat, and 30 to 35 mg/1000 kJ [128 to 147 mg/1000 kcal] cholesterol). During the second dietary phase, subjects consumed a low-fat diet (15.1% total fat, 5.0% saturated fat, 17 mg/1000 kJ [73 mg/1000 kcal] cholesterol). During the baseline and low-fat diet phases, which lasted 5 to 6 weeks each, the energy intake was adjusted to keep body weight constant. During the third diet phase (low-fat ad libitum diet) subjects were given the same low-fat diet for 10 to 12 weeks, but could adjust their intake between 66% and 133% of the energy required to maintain body weight.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Body weight and plasma lipid levels.

Results.  —Consumption of the low-fat diet under weight-maintenance conditions had significant lowering effects on plasma total cholesterol (TC), LDL-C, and highdensity lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels (mean change, -12.5%, -17.1%, and -22.8%, respectively). This diet significantly increased plasma triglyceride levels (+47.3%) and the TC/HDL-C ratio (+14.6%). In contrast, consumption of the low-fat ad libitum diet was accompanied by significant weight loss (-3.63 kg), by a mean decrease in LDL-C (-24.3%), and by mean triglyceride levels and TC/HDL-C ratio that were not significantly different from values obtained at baseline.

Conclusions.  —Our results indicate that a low-fat ad libitum diet promotes weight loss and LDL-C lowering without adverse effects on triglycerides or the TC/HDL-C ratio in middle-aged and elderly men and women with moderate hypercholesterolemia.(JAMA. 1995;274:1450-1455)