The Hawaii Diet: ad libitum high carbohydrate, low fat multi-cultural diet for the reduction of chronic disease risk factors: obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and hyperglycemia

Hawaii Med J. 2001 Mar;60(3):69-73.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the health effects of a high carbohydrate, low fat multi-cultural traditional diet, The Hawaii Diet, fed ad libitum to an adult population.

Methods: Twenty-two adults recruited from various cultural backgrounds in Hawaii were fed, without calorie or portion size restriction, the Hawaii Diet for 21 days. The Hawaii Diet, based on familiar traditional foods from different cultures, is high in complex carbohydrate (77% of calories), low in fat (12% of calories), and moderate in protein (11% of calories). Participants were encouraged to eat to satiety.

Results: There was a significant weight loss on The Hawaii Diet averaging 10.8 lbs (23.8 kg) (P < .0001). Blood pressure was decreased from an average of 136.0/82.7 mm Hg to 125.5/78.9 mm Hg yielding a significant decrease of 10.4 mm Hg for systolic (P < .01). Beginning diastolic levels were normal so decreases in these values were not significant. Average lipid values also decreased with total serum cholesterol being significantly reduced from 205.3 to 156.9 mg/dl (P < .0001); LDL from 125.9 to 94.9 mg/dl (P < .001); and HDL from 38.3 to 31.3 mg/dl (P < .0005). Triglycerides (238.7 to 152.2 mg/dl) and the Chol:HDL ratio (5.8 to 5.2) improved at marginally significant levels (P < .08). There was also a significant reduction in blood glucose levels from 112.2 to 91.5 mg/dL (P < .01).

Conclusion: The Hawaii Diet consisting of high carbohydrate, low fat ethnic meals appears to have a beneficial influence on weight loss and in decreasing systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL, and blood glucose values. Marginal improvement occurred for triglyceride levels. There was also a significant drop in HDL levels, however, the Chol:HDL was ratio did not increase. Further studies of longer duration with a control group should be conducted to test the effectiveness of The Hawaii Diet in maintaining these health benefits over a longer period of time.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Female
  • Hawaii
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / prevention & control*
  • Hyperglycemia / prevention & control*
  • Hypertension / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome