Metabolic syndrome and changes in body fat from a low-fat diet and/or exercise randomized controlled trial

Sarah M. Camhi, Marcia L. Stefanick, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Deborah R. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is difficult to identify the successful component(s) related to changes in metabolic syndrome (MetS) from lifestyle interventions: the weight loss, the behavior change, or the combination. The purpose of this study is to determine the effects of a weight-stable randomized controlled trial of low-fat diet and exercise, alone and in combination, on MetS. Men (n = 179) and postmenopausal women (n = 149) with elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) were randomized into a 1-year, weight-stable trial with four treatment groups: control (C), diet (D), exercise (E), or diet plus exercise (DE). MetS was defined using a continuous score. Changes in MetS score (ΔMetS) were compared between groups using analysis of covariance, stratified by gender and using two models, with and without baseline and change in percent body fat (ΔBF) as a covariate. In men, ΔMetS was higher for D vs. C (P = 0.04), DE vs. C (P = 0.0002), and DE vs. E (P = 0.02). For women, ΔMetS was greater for D vs. C (P = 0.045), E vs. C (P = 0.02), and DE vs. C (P = 0.004). After adjusting for ΔBF, all differences between groups were attenuated and no longer significant. ΔMetS were associated with ΔBF for both men (P 0.0001) and women (P = 0.004). After adjustment for ΔBF, low-fat diet alone and in combination with exercise had no effect on MetS. The key component for MetS from low-fat diet and/or increased physical activity appears to be body fat loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)548-554
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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