High-fat Mediterranean diet does not lead to weight gain

High-fat Mediterranean diet does not lead to weight gain

24th June 2016

High-fat Mediterranean diet does not lead to weight gain


Eating a high-fat Mediterranean diet does not automatically lead to weight gain. This is the outcome of a multi-year Spanish study published in "The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology". Dietary fat content is not necessarily a useful metric of how beneficial or harmful food is, the study emphasised.


For their study, researchers from the University of Barcelona (Spain) assigned 7,447 participants aged between 55 and 80 a specific diet over a period of five years. Ninety per cent were overweight or obese, and all had a high cardiovascular risk or type-2 diabetes. The participants were randomly divided into three groups. One group (2,543 people) was asked to eat an unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil; the other group (2,454) ate an unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet that was rich in nuts, and the third group (2,450 people) was asked to eat a low-fat diet.


After five years, total fat intake had decreased in the low-fat diet group from 40 to 37.4 per cent. In contrast, it had slightly increased in both Mediterranean diet groups (from 40 to 41.8 per cent in the olive oil group, and from 40.4 to 42.2 per cent in the nut group). In turn, the percentage of energy intake from protein and carbohydrates decreased in both Mediterranean diet groups. All study subjects had lost some weight (0.88 kg in the olive oil group, 0.60 kg in the low-fat diet group, 0.40 kg in the nut group), however their waist circumference slightly increased (1.2 cm for the low-fat diet, 0.85 cm for the olive oil group, 0.37 cm for the nut group).


The study provides further proof that total fat content of a diet is not the most important element, but rather the type of fat consumed - and that fatty acids in nuts, fish and phenol-rich vegetable oils are healthy, says study author Ramon Estruch. A high-fat Mediterranean diet therefore has practically no effect on body weight or waist circumference but offers many well-known health benefits.



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