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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Sep;50(8):699-715. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2010.491057.

Is dietary fat "fattening"? A comprehensive research synthesis.

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Division of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, MT610 Birmingham, AL 35294, USA. jshikany@dopm.uab


The goal of this research synthesis was to separate and articulate questions that had clear meaning, were empirically addressable, and were germane to the broad question "Is fat fattening?" Four such questions addressing the effect of varying the proportion of dietary fat on body weight and body fat were formulated. A comprehensive review of electronic citation databases was conducted to identify studies that addressed each question. The results of the studies addressing each question were tabulated and summarized, and an answer for each question was formulated. The results indicated that whether "fat is fattening" depends on exactly what one means by the question. It is apparent that under conditions of energy deficit, high-fat diets lead to greater weight loss than low-fat diets, but under ad libitum feeding conditions, instructing persons to follow a low-fat diet promotes loss of body weight and body fat. For one question, studies were few but convincing that altering the proportion of energy from fat in daily snacks has no effect on weight, while for another there were not enough studies available to answer the question with confidence. General recommendations to reduce dietary fat to promote weight loss or maintenance in all circumstances may merit reconsideration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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