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Original Investigation
September 25, 2000

Changes in Diet, Weight, and Serum Lipid Levels Associated With Olestra Consumption

Author Affiliations

From the Cancer Prevention Research Program, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Wash (Drs Patterson, Kristal, Neuhouser, and Thornquist); Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, Ohio (Dr Peters); the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla (Dr Rock); the Division of Gastroenterology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md (Dr Cheskin); and the Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Dr Neumark-Sztainer).

Arch Intern Med. 2000;160(17):2600-2604. doi:10.1001/archinte.160.17.2600

Background  Specially manufactured low-fat and nonfat foods have become increasingly available over the past 2 decades and controversy has surrounded the issue of whether these products have beneficial or adverse effects on the health and nutritional status of Americans.

Methods  This study examines the association of olestra consumption with changes in dietary intakes of energy, fat, and cholesterol and changes in weight and serum lipid concentrations. Data are from a cohort of 335 participants in the Olestra Post-Marketing Surveillance Study sentinel site in Marion County (Indianapolis, Ind). Diet, weight, and serum lipid levels were assessed before the market release of olestra and 1 year later, after olestra-containing foods were widely available. Olestra intake at the 1-year follow-up was categorized as none, low (>0 to 0.4 g/d), moderate (0.4 to 2.0 g/d), and heavy (>2.0 g/d).

Results  Participants in the heavy olestra consumption category significantly reduced dietary intake of percentage of energy from fat (2.7 percentage points, P for trend, .003) and saturated fat (1.1 percentage points, P for trend, .02). Consumers in the highest category of olestra consumption had statistically significantly reduced total serum cholesterol levels of –0.54 mmol/L (−21 mg/dL)compared with –0.14 mmol/L (−5 mg/dL) among olestra nonconsumers (P for trend, .03).

Conclusions  These results indicate that introduction of a new fat substitute (olestra) in the US market was associated with healthful changes in dietary fat intake and serum cholesterol concentrations among consumers who chose to consume olestra-containing foods.