Eat Chips and Lose Weight?

Eating a low-fat diet that includes the controversial fat substitute olestra (Olean) produced improvement in cardiovascular risk factors in a recent study—an effect largely explained by the participants’ weight loss.

Researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, conducted a double-blinded study involving 37 obese men with an average age of 36 and an average body mass index of 31. The men were randomly assigned for nine months to one of three groups and ate one of these diets:

  • a diet with 33 percent fat (the control group)
  • a diet with 25 percent fat (the reduced-fat group)
  • a diet in which olestra replaced one-third of dietary fat (the fat-substitute group)

The fat-substitute group lost an average of 14 pounds of body weight over nine months, while the controls lost nine pounds and the reduced-fat group dropped four pounds.

Participants in the fat-substitute group also saw decreases in total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides, while the other groups did not.

HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased in all three groups.

Procter and Gamble, which uses olestra in its potato chips, tortilla chips and crackers, helped fund this study.

-International Journal of Obesity, October 2003

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