Safety of a fat-reduced diet: The dietary intervention study in children (DISC)

Eva Obarzanek*, Sally A. Hunsberger, Linda Van Horn, Virginia V. Hartmuller, Bruce A. Barton, Victor J. Stevens, Peter O. Kwiterovich, Frank A. Franklin, Sue Y S Kimm, Norman L. Lasser, Denise G. Simons-Morton, Ronald M. Lauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Objective. To assess the relationship between energy intake from fat and anthropometric, biochemical, and dietary measures of nutritional adequacy and safety. Design. Three-year longitudinal study of children participating in a randomized controlled trial; intervention and usual care group data pooled to assess effects of self-reported fat intake; longitudinal regression analyses of measurements at baseline, year 1, and year 3. Participants. Six hundred sixty-three children (362 boys and 301 girls), 8 to 10 years of age at baseline, with elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, who are participants of the Dietary ]Intervention Study in Children. Measures. Energy intake from fat assessed from three 24-hour recalls at each time point was the independent variable. Outcomes were anthropometric measures (height, weight, body mass index, and sum of skinfolds), nutritional biochemical determinations (serum ferritin, zinc, retinol, albumin, β-carotene, and vitamin E, red blood cell folate, and hemoglobin), and dietary micronutrients (vitamins A, C, E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B-6, B-12, folate, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorus). Results. Lower fat intake was not related to anthropometric measures or serum zinc, retinol, albumin, β-carotene, or vitamin E. Lower fat intake was related to: 1) higher levels of red blood cell folate and hemoglobin, with a trend toward higher serum ferritin; 2) higher intakes of folate, vitamin C, and vitamin A, with a trend toward higher iron intake; 3) lower intakes of calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B-12, thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin; 4) increased risk of consuming less than two-thirds of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for calcium in girls at baseline, and zinc and vitamin E in boys and girls at all visits. Conclusions. Lower fat intakes during puberty are nutritionally adequate for growth and for maintenance of normal levels of nutritional biochemical measures, and are associated with beneficial effects on blood folate and hemoglobin. Although lower fat diets were related to lower self- reported intakes of several nutrients, no adverse effects were observed on blood biochemical measures of nutritional status. Current public health recommendations for moderately lower fat intakes in children during puberty may be followed safely.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-59
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1997


  • Children
  • Dietary safety
  • Fat intake
  • Low-fat diet
  • Nutritional status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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