Washington: Wondering if a low-fat diet has long term benefit? Well, yes. In a new study, researchers have found a number of benefits the diet carries for women.
“While there are many diets that provide short-term benefits like weight loss, this study scientifically validates the long-term health effects of a low-fat diet,” said Dr Garnet Anderson, a co-author of the study and senior vice president and director of Fred Hutch’s Public Health Sciences Division.
The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Nutrition.
Researchers found that low-fat diet commensurate with an increase in fruit, vegetable and grain servings reduced death following breast cancer, slowed diabetes progression and prevented coronary heart disease.
For the study, researchers incorporated nearly 49,000 postmenopausal women across the U.S. to test whether a low-fat dietary pattern would reduce the risk of breast and colorectal cancers and coronary heart disease.
After nearly nine years of dietary change, they found that the low-fat diet didn’t significantly impact outcomes for these conditions. However, after a longer-term follow-up of nearly 20 years, they found significant benefits, derived from modest dietary changes.
The diet showed a 15-35 per cent reduction in deaths from all-causes following breast cancer, a 13-25 per cent reduction in insulin-dependent diabetes and a 15-30 per cent reduction in coronary heart disease among 23,000 women without baseline hypertension or prior cardiovascular disease.
“The latest results support the role of nutrition in overall health, and indicate that low-fat diets rich in fruits, vegetables and grains have health benefits without any observed adverse effects,” said Dr. Ross Prentice, member of the Cancer Prevention and Biostatistics programs at Fred Hutch and his colleagues in the Women’s Health Initiative.
Unlike other studies examining the link between diet, cancer and other diseases, WHI investigators designed the study as a long-term, randomized controlled clinical trial to limit bias and establish causal conclusions.
Participants made intentional dietary changes resulting from learned integrated concepts about nutrition and behaviour, taught by trained nutritionists during the first year and reinforced quarterly for nearly a decade.
“The sheer number of new diets and nutrition trends can be overwhelming to people who simply want to know, ‘What should I be eating?'” said Anderson.