Study: Low-fat diet not effective for weight loss

Cutting carbohydrates results in more, and sustained, weight loss.

By Stephen Feller

BOSTON, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Despite fat having a higher caloric content than carbohydrates, cutting fat from people's diets does not lead to long-term weight loss, according to a large analysis of studies.

The new analysis addresses the decades-long debate about the weight loss benefits of consuming less fat. Previous studies have been mixed on whether cutting fat works, whereas researchers said other weight loss methods have a better track record of success.


Researchers in the study also contend that healthier diets and portion control are much better for losing weight and keeping it off.

"Despite the pervasive dogma that one needs to cut fat from their diet in order to lose weight, the existing scientific evidence does not support low-fat diets over other dietary interventions for long-term weight loss," said Dr. Deirdre Tobias, a researcher in the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in a press release. "In fact, we did not find evidence that is particularly supportive of any specific proportion of calories from fat for meaningful long-term weight loss."

Researchers at BWH and Harvard considered data from 53 studies, all of which lasted at least a year, with a total 68,128 participants to compare the long-term results of low-fat and high-fat weight loss interventions.


Overall, the data showed that participants on any kind of altered diet only lost and kept off about six pounds after a year, but participants on low-carbohydrate diets were about 2.5 pounds lighter than those on low-fat diets after a year.

Low-fat interventions also were shown to be most effective when compared with a participants' usual diet. This led researchers to suggest that looking at a person's overall diet, rather than comparing caloric intake from various foods, would be a more effective way of promoting weight loss.

"We need to look beyond the ratios of calories from fat, carbs, and protein to a discussion of healthy eating patterns, whole foods, and portion sizes," Tobias said. "Finding new ways to improve diet adherence for the long-term and preventing weight gain in the first place are important strategies for maintaining a healthy weight."

The study is published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Latest Headlines