Changes in Types of Dietary Fats Influence Long-term Weight Change in US Women and Men

J Nutr. 2018 Nov 1;148(11):1821-1829. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxy183.


Background: The relation between dietary fat intake and body weight remains controversial. Few studies have examined long-term changes in types of dietary fat and weight change in longitudinal studies.

Objective: The objective of this study was to examine associations between intake of different types of fat and long-term weight change in US women and men.

Methods: The association between changes in consumption of varying types of fat and weight change was examined every 4 y through the use of multivariate models adjusted for age, baseline body mass index, and change in percentage energy from protein, intake of cereal fiber, fruits, and vegetables, alcohol use, and other lifestyle covariates in 3 prospective US cohorts, including 121,335 men and women free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or obesity over a 20- to 24-y follow-up. Dietary intakes and body weight were assessed via validated questionnaires. Cohort-specific results were pooled with the use of a random-effect meta-analysis.

Results: Compared with equivalent changes in carbohydrate intake, a 5% increase in energy from saturated fatty acid (SFA) and a 1% increase in energy from trans-fat were associated with 0.61 kg (95% CI: 0.54, 0.68 kg) and 0.69 kg (95% CI: 0.56, 0.84 kg) greater weight gain per 4-y period, respectively. A 5% increase in energy from polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) was associated with less weight gain (-0.55 kg; 95% CI: -0.81, -0.29 kg). Increased intake of monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) from animal sources by 1% was associated with weight gain of 0.29 kg (95% CI: 0.25, 0.33 kg), whereas MUFA from plant sources was not associated with weight gain.

Conclusions: Different dietary fats have divergent associations with long-term weight change in US men and women. Replacing saturated and trans-fats with unsaturated fats, especially PUFAs, contributes to the prevention of age-related weight gain. These trials were registered at as NCT00005152 and NCT00005182.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Dietary Fats / classification*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • United States
  • Weight Gain*


  • Dietary Fats

Associated data