Specially manufactured low-fat and nonfat foods have become increasingly available over the past 2 decades and controversy has surrounded the issue of whether these products have beneficial or adverse effects on the health and nutritional status of Americans.
This study examines the association of olestra consumption with changes in dietary intakes of energy, fat, and cholesterol and changes in weight and serum lipid concentrations. Data are from a cohort of 335 participants in the Olestra Post-Marketing Surveillance Study sentinel site in Marion County (Indianapolis, Ind). Diet, weight, and serum lipid levels were assessed before the market release of olestra and 1 year later, after olestra-containing foods were widely available. Olestra intake at the 1-year follow-up was categorized as none, low (>0 to 0.4 g/d), moderate (0.4 to 2.0 g/d), and heavy (>2.0 g/d).
Participants in the heavy olestra consumption category significantly reduced dietary intake of percentage of energy from fat (2.7 percentage points, P for trend, .003) and saturated fat (1.1 percentage points, P for trend, .02). Consumers in the highest category of olestra consumption had statistically significantly reduced total serum cholesterol levels of –0.54 mmol/L (−21 mg/dL)compared with –0.14 mmol/L (−5 mg/dL) among olestra nonconsumers (P for trend, .03).
These results indicate that introduction of a new fat substitute (olestra) in the US market was associated with healthful changes in dietary fat intake and serum cholesterol concentrations among consumers who chose to consume olestra-containing foods.