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Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 May;53(5):1124-9.

Weight loss on a low-fat diet: consequence of the imprecision of the control of food intake in humans.

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  • 1Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.


This study examined the degree to which humans compensate for a reduction in dietary fat by increasing energy intake. Thirteen females were randomly assigned to either a low-fat diet (20-25% of calories as fat) or a control diet (35-40% fat) for 11 wk. After a 7-wk washout period, the conditions were reversed for another 11 wk. Energy intake on the low-fat diet gradually increased by 0.092 kJ/wk resulting in a total caloric compensation of 35% by the end of the 11-wk treatment period. This failure to compensate calorically on the low-fat diet resulted in a deficit of 1.22 kJ/d and a weight loss of 2.5 kg in 11 wk, twice the amount of weight lost on the control diet. These results demonstrate that body weight can be lost merely by reducing the fat content of the diet without the need to voluntarily restrict food intake.

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