Low-fat diets are not effective for weight loss

Low-fat diets are not effective for weight loss

For a long time, there has been a misconception about fats in the diet pertaining to weight gain. While certain fats like trans fats are linked to heart disease and premature death, there are fats like omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats that are healthy.

According to new Harvard research, low-fat diets are not effective for weight loss.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) conducted a large review of data from clinical trials that observed the effect of low-fat diets on weight loss.

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 Deirdre Tobias, ScD, a researcher in the Division of Preventive Medicine at BWH. “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. 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. 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 researchers analyzed data from 53 different studies involving over 68,000 people. On average, participants who were given low-fat diets only managed to lose an average of 6 pounds for a year or longer.

Current evidence indicates that clinically meaningful weight loss can be achieved with a variety of dietary approaches,” said Frank Hu, senior author of the paper and Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The key is to improve long-term compliance and cardiometabolic health. Therefore, weight loss diets should be tailored to cultural and food preferences and health conditions of the individual and should also consider long-term health consequences of the diets.”

The study showing that low-fat diets are not effective for weight loss was published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

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1. “Trans Fats, but Not Saturated Fats, Linked to Greater Risk of Death and Heart Disease.” The BMJ (n.d.): n. pag. BMJ. BMJ, 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.
2. “Low-fat Diet Not Most Effective in Long-term Weight Loss.” EurekAlert! Brigham and Women’s Hospital, n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2015.
3. “Effect of Low-fat Diet Interventions versus Other Diet Interventions on Long-term Weight Change in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” The Lancet Diabetes & Oncology. The Lancet, n.d. Web.

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