Effect of high-fat and low-fat diets on voluntary energy intake and substrate oxidation: studies in identical twins consuming diets matched for energy density, fiber, and palatability

Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Dec;66(6):1332-9. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/66.6.1332.


There remains controversy over the effects of dietary fat content on voluntary energy intake. Additionally, the question of whether there is a genetic susceptibility to overeating high-fat diets has not been resolved. To address these issues, we designed two diets: a low-fat diet providing approximately 20% of energy as fat and a high-fat diet with approximately 40% of energy as fat. The diets were matched for energy density, fiber, and palatability. In a two-phase, 18-d intervention study, voluntary energy intakes and macronutrient oxidation rates during the fasting and fed states were determined in seven pairs of identical male twins. In contrast with results of previous intervention studies, in which low-fat and high-fat diets were not matched for energy density and other associated variables, we observed no significant difference in voluntary energy intake between the low-fat and high-fat phases, and mean daily intakes were similar (10.3 and 10.7 MJ/d, respectively). Postprandial rates of fat oxidation tended to reflect fat intakes in the two dietary phases, thus helping to explain the lack of a difference in mean energy intakes. There was also a significant twin-pair similarity in differences in energy intakes between dietary phases (P = 0.013). These results suggest that dietary fat content does not have a major influence on voluntary energy intake when dietary variables usually associated with fat are controlled for and that there may be a familial influence on the effects of dietary fat content on energy intake.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fiber / metabolism
  • Energy Intake*
  • Fasting / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Taste
  • Twins, Monozygotic


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber