Testing the protein leverage hypothesis in humans [ 2007 - 2009 ]

Also known as: Can humans lose weight by eating a diet with a higher percentage of protein?

Research Grant

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Researchers: Prof Stephen Simpson (Principal investigator) ,  Arthur David Conigrave Prof Arthur Conigrave Prof Ian Caterson Prof Janette Brand-Miller
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Brief description This proposal is designed to test the protein leverage hypothesis (PLH) in humans: the idea that the level of food consumption in humans, like other animals, is adjusted to maintain a target protein intake. As the prevalence of overweight and obesity increases, with its attendant health problems, the need to identify which dietary components limit rather than exacerbate energy intake is imperative. According to the PLH, the consumption of a diet low in % protein and high in % fat and carbohydrate, typical of many Western countries, inevitably requires the ingestion of additional energy to maintain protein intake constant, thus driving weight gain. Conversely, the consumption of a diet that is relatively high in % protein requires the ingestion of lower levels of energy, creating the potential for weight loss. Preliminary experimental and population-level nutritional survey data support the PLH, as does the finding that protein is more satiating than other macronutrients. If, as predicted, small changes in the proportion of protein in diets described in the current study are found to impact on total energy intake there will be significant implications for weight control strategies. Thus, if the PLH is confirmed, public health dietary recommendations and government policy settings for the food industry will need to change. Large-scale intervention studies aimed at demonstrating the longer term impact on body weight will also be required.

Funding Amount $AUD 806,585.19

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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