Blog.

The low-fat diet doesn’t work, says major Harvard Study

By Rachel O'Regan |


I Quit Sugar - The low-fat diet doesn’t work, says major Harvard Study

  • Cutting carbs, not fat, is more effective for weight loss, says major Harvard study.
  • Review included 53 long-term studies and 67,000 participants.
  • Is this the final nail in the coffin for low-fat diets?

If you’re the type to throw away your chicken skins and only ask for “skinny” caps, listen up. A rigorous meta-analysis of 67,000 participants says that those who cut back on carbs, not fat, lose more weight.

The systematic review of 53 long-term studies, published in Harvard university’s prestigious Lancet Journal, found that low-fat dieters were a kilo heavier after a year compared to those who followed a low-carb approach. Which, admittedly, is not a lot more, but enough to cast serious aspersions on the weight-conscious, low-fat movement.

Is the key to healthy weight maintenance, say, JERFing?

Don’t start stocking up on low-carb Atkins bars just yet! It’s important note that while the low-fat diet was less effective than the low-carb diet for weight loss, the study found that neither diet was effective in the long term. Indeed, a low-carb, high-fat diet of artificial trans fats and processed meats would hardly be healthy.

Dr Deirdre Tobias, who led the study, said that sustainable healthy eating was more important than faddish, by-the-numbers diets:

“To effectively address the obesity epidemic, we will need more research to identify better approaches for long-term weight loss and weight maintenance, including the need to look beyond differences in macronutrient composition. Long-term adherence is critical for the success of any dietary intervention, and one should also take into account other long-term health effects of their dietary choices.”

Sounds like she’s a JERF (Just Eat Real Food) advocate to us. After all, we reckon that if you follow a real food approach of mostly vegetables, adequate protein and satiating healthy fats, you’ll find it hard to lean too far into the low-fat or low-carb camps.

Will Big Food stop marketing products as “low-fat”, “skinny” or “lite”?

The low-fat movement seems to be dwindling, with more and more advocates for a whole foods, Mediterranean-style approach to eating. So, does this mean that Big Food will finally stop marketing their sugar-laden products as “low-fat”, “skinny” or “lite”? If this study takes off and low-fat is no longer bringing in customers, we predict you’ll be seeing a lot more “low-carb” processed foods coming your way. Our advice? Stay sceptical. The best foods don’t need labels anyway.

Were you a low-fat dieter who stopped fearing fat? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

Please be respectful of other participants in the conversation. We'd love you to keep your comments respectful, friendly and relevant. Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling and abuse of other commentators and the IQS editorial team is not and will result in blacklisting.

Latest tweets
Join our 1,400,000 followers!
IQS newsletter freebie
FREE!
A Day in the Life of Quitting Sugar

Join our newsletter for the
best IQS tips, tricks and recipes
+ a free eBook!

Please enter a valid email address
Please enter a valid name