NHLBI Media Availability: Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and
Weight Change -
the WHI Dietary Modification Trial
Results of the first study on the long-term effects
of a dietary pattern low in fat and high in carbohydrates
suggest that a low-fat eating pattern does not lead
to weight gain. The new Women’s Health Initiative
(WHI) study examined the relationships between weight
changes in postmenopausal women and specific changes
in types of food eaten. Women in the intervention
group were counseled to decrease fat intake to 20
percent of calories and to replace calories from fat
with calories from vegetables, fruits, and grains
(with an emphasis on whole grains) – but were
not told to cut calories. The study was designed to
test whether a low-fat, increased carbohydrate diet
would reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular
disease but was not a weight loss study. The control
group received diet-related education materials only.
Participants in the low-fat, increased carbohydrate
group initially lost about 5 pounds and after 9 years
they weighed about 1 pound less than the usual diet
“Low-Fat Dietary Pattern and Weight Change Over
7 Years – the Women’s Health Initiative
Dietary Modification Trial,” will be published
in the January 4 issue of the Journal of the American
Medical Association. The study was funded by
the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
of the National Institutes of Health.
WHI Project Officer Jacques Rossouw, M.D., of NHLBI
is available to provide general comment on the WHI
and on this latest study’s findings that a low-fat
eating pattern does not result in weight gain in postmenopausal
women. According to Dr. Rossouw, a low-fat, high carbohydrate
dietary pattern may help to contain the age-related
rise in body weight seen in post-menopausal women.
NHLBI nutritionist Eva Obarzanek, Ph.D., can discuss
how this study relates to other research on weight
To schedule interviews, contact the NHLBI Communications
Office at 301-496-4236.
NHLBI is part of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH), the Federal Government’s primary agency
for biomedical and behavioral research. NIH is a component
of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
NHLBI press releases and fact sheets, including information
on the Women’s Health Initiative and on overweight
and obesity can be found online at www.nhlbi.nih.gov.