To assess whether usual diet (especially intake of dietary fat, carbohydrate, and fiber) was related to body fat percentage in healthy men.
A written questionnaire provided data on demographic and lifestyle characteristics. Dietary fat, carbohydrate, protein, and fiber intakes were analyzed using the National Cancer Institute food frequency questionnaire. Percentage of body fat was determined using three-site skinfold measurements, and a submaximal treadmill test was used to estimate aerobic fitness.
Subjects were 203 healthy men (14.0 +/- 5.3% mean body fat) aged 21 to 71 years. The subjects were chosen from randomly selected districts within Utah County and volunteered for free diet and fitness evaluations.
Multiple regression analysis determined the extent to which the individual diet components predicted body composition before and after controlling for energy intake, fitness level, body weight, and age. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to compare relative body fat groups in regard to dietary variables.
Reported intakes of carbohydrate (P = .0085, R2 = .022), complex carbohydrate (P = .0127, R2 = .024), and fiber (P = .002, R2 = .03) were inversely associated with body fat after controlling for age, energy intake, and fitness level. Energy intake was positively related to body fat after controlling for age, fitness level, and body weight. When subjects were separated into low-, moderate-, and high-body-fat groups, the fattest subjects reported eating significantly more dietary fat (P = .05) and less carbohydrate (P = .01), complex carbohydrate (P = .01), and fiber (P = .005) than the leanest subjects. No significant difference in reported energy intake was noted across body fat groups.
Composition of the diet may play a role in obesity beyond energy intake in men over the long-term. Lifestyle changes for men should probably include modifications in diet composition, especially increased consumption of foods high in complex carbohydrate and fiber.