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J Am Diet Assoc. 1994 Jun;94(6):612-5.

Dietary fat, sugar, and fiber predict body fat content.

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Department of Kinesiology, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405.



This study was conducted to determine the relationships among the specific components of dietary fat and carbohydrate and body fatness in lean and obese adults.


Body composition determination was performed on each subject by hydrostatic weighing at residual volume. Subsequently, the individual components of dietary fat and carbohydrate were examined relative to body fatness using a 3-day food diary and a food frequency questionnaire.


Subjects were 23 lean (11.1 +/- 2.9% body fat) men, 23 obese (29.2 +/- 3.8% body fat) men, 17 lean (16.7 +/- 3.3% body fat) women, and 15 obese (42.7 +/- 3.9% body fat) women who volunteered for free diet and body composition analyses. Inclusion criteria were 15% body fat for lean men, 25% for obese men, 20% for lean women, and 35% for obese women.


Group comparisons for dietary variables were made with a multivariate analysis of variance.


No differences were found between lean and obese subjects for energy intake or total sugar intake, but obese subjects derived a greater portion of their energy from fat (33.1 +/- 2.6% and 36.3 +/- 2.3% for obese men and women, respectively, vs 29.1 +/- 1.3% and 29.6 +/- 2.0%, lean men and women, respectively). Percent of fat intake for saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats was not different among groups. Obese subjects derived a greater percentage of their sugar intake from added sugars than lean subjects (38.0 +/- 3.5% vs 25.2 +/- 2.0%, respectively, for men; 47.9 +/- 8.0% vs 31.4 +/- 3.4%, respectively, for women). Dietary fiber was lower for obese men (20.9 +/- 1.8 g) and women (15.7 +/- 1.1 g) than for lean men (27.0 +/- 1.8 g) and women (22.7 +/- 2.1 g).


Obesity is maintained primarily by a diet that is high in fat and added sugar and relatively low in fiber. Alterations in diet composition rather than energy intake may be a weight control strategy for overweight adults.

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