High Fat in Mediterranean Diet Won't Increase Body Weight

By R. Siva Kumar - 10 Jun '16 10:31AM

A new study conducted by University of Barcelona in Spain shows that healthy fat intake does not automatically lead to increase in weight. Mediterranean diet could include foods that may have healthy fat, but do not include sweets and junk food.

This diet was spread by Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain in the 1940s and 1950s. It investigated over 7,400 women and men in Spain aged between 55 to 80 years. Participants in the test were exposed to one of three tests: firstly, unlimited calorie Mediterranean diet that was rich in olive oil; an unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet full of nuts; or a low-fat diet without any dietary fat.

Above 90 percent of the participants were obese.

The results after five years showed that participants who had been assigned to the Mediterranean diet as well as extra-virgin olive oil and nuts lost 0.88 kg and 0.40 kg while the third group on low-fat control diet lost 0.60 kg.

"In a model that adjusted for multiple variables, including baseline body mass index and total energy consumption, those assigned to the Mediterranean diet plus extra-virgin olive oil lost 0.43 kg more weight than did controls, a difference that was statistically significant. For those assigned to the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, the multivariable-adjusted difference in body weight versus the control arm was not statistically outstanding."

"These results have practical implications, because the fear of weight gain from high fat foods need no longer be an obstacle to adherence to a dietary pattern such as the Mediterranean diet, which is known to provide much clinical and metabolic benefit," write Ramon Estruch, MD, PhD, from CIBER OBN-University, Barcelona.

"They are also relevant for public health, because they lend support to not restricting intake of healthy fats in advice for bodyweight maintenance and overall cardiometabolic health, as acknowledged by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 Advisory Committee," they add.

People on the Mediterranean diet also consumed more vegetables, fruit and fish and less meat and dairy products than those on the low-fat diet. Hence, even though they were not asked to consume fewer calories, those in the Mediterranean category lost slightly more weight than others in the low-fat group.

The report was published June 6 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

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