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J Nutr. 2004 Jul;134(7):1741-5.

Very low-fat (12%) and high monounsaturated fat (35%) diets do not differentially affect abdominal fat loss in overweight, nondiabetic women.

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  • 1CSIRO Health Sciences and Nutrition, Adelaide BC, South Australia 5000.


Studies in women with type 2 diabetes demonstrated adverse effects on body fat distribution of a low-fat diet relative to a high monounsaturated fat diet. We performed a randomized 12-wk parallel design study of two 6000-kJ diets: 35% energy from fat (high monounsaturated fat diet, HIMO), or 12% energy from fat (very low-fat diet, VLF) to determine whether this also occurred in nondiabetic women. Body fat distribution, fasting plasma glucose, blood pressure, and fasting serum lipids were measured at wk 0 and 12 in 62 women (BMI > 27 kg/m(2)). Weight loss (9.5 +/- 2.4 vs. 9.4 +/- 3.4 kg, VLF vs. HIMO) and total fat loss (6.1 +/- 2.4 vs. 6.3 +/- 2.7 kg, VLF vs. HIMO) did not differ in the groups. There was a diet x menopausal status interaction in lean mass changes (P = 0.005) such that in premenopausal women, HIMO produced a lower loss of lean mass than the low-fat diet (0.4 +/- 2.3 vs. 2.9 +/- 2.7 kg, P = 0.006) with the opposite but nonsignificant effect seen in postmenopausal women. There was a greater decrease in total plasma cholesterol in women who consumed VLF compared with those who consumed HIMO (0.82 +/- 0.0.51 vs. 0.50 +/- 0.48 mmol/L, P < 0.001 for time, P < 0.05 for diet effect). This was also true for the change in HDL cholesterol (0.18 +/- 0.23 vs. 0.04 +/- 0.19 mmol/L, VLF and HIMO, respectively, P < 0.001 for time, P < 0.05 for diet effect). The LDL/HDL ratio was reduced in both groups with no effect of diet (0.16 +/- 0.51 vs. 0.16 +/- 0.45, VLF and HIMO, respectively, P < 0.05). In conclusion, weight, total fat mass, and regional fat mass loss did not differ in the 2 groups of women but there was an apparent preservation of lean mass in premenopausal women consuming HIMO.

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