Original Article

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2014) 68, 350–357; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.290; published online 29 January 2014

Interventions and public health nutrition

Long-term effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet in obese postmenopausal women: a 2-year randomized trial

C Mellberg1,7, S Sandberg2,7, M Ryberg1,7, M Eriksson3, S Brage4, C Larsson5,6, T Olsson1,8 and B Lindahl2,8

  1. 1Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  2. 2Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  3. 3Department of Statistics, USBE, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  4. 4MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  5. 5Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  6. 6Department of Food and Nutrition, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

Correspondence: C Mellberg, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå SE-90185, Sweden. E-mail: caroline.mellberg@medicin.umu.se

7These authors share first authorship.

8These authors share senior authorship.

Received 13 September 2013; Revised 2 December 2013; Accepted 3 December 2013
Advance online publication 29 January 2014

Contributors: Study concept and design; acquisition of data; and drafting the manuscript: CM, SS, MR, CL, TO, and BL. Analysis and interpretation of data and critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: all the authors. Statistical analysis: CM, SS. ME, and BL. Obtained funding: TO, BL, and MR. Administrative, technical or material support: SB, CL, TO, and BL. Study supervision: MR, CL, TO, and BL.





Short-term studies have suggested beneficial effects of a Palaeolithic-type diet (PD) on body weight and metabolic balance. We now report the long-term effects of a PD on anthropometric measurements and metabolic balance in obese postmenopausal women, in comparison with a diet according to the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR).



Seventy obese postmenopausal women (mean age 60 years, body mass index 33kg/m2) were assigned to an ad libitum PD or NNR diet in a 2-year randomized controlled trial. The primary outcome was change in fat mass as measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.



Both groups significantly decreased total fat mass at 6 months (−6.5 and−2.6kg) and 24 months (−4.6 and−2.9kg), with a more pronounced fat loss in the PD group at 6 months (P<0.001) but not at 24 months (P=0.095). Waist circumference and sagittal diameter also decreased in both the groups, with a more pronounced decrease in the PD group at 6 months (−11.1 vs−5.8cm, P=0.001 and−3.7 vs−2.0cm, P<0.001, respectively). Triglyceride levels decreased significantly more at 6 and 24 months in the PD group than in the NNR group (P<0.001 and P=0.004). Nitrogen excretion did not differ between the groups.



A PD has greater beneficial effects vs an NNR diet regarding fat mass, abdominal obesity and triglyceride levels in obese postmenopausal women; effects not sustained for anthropometric measurements at 24 months. Adherence to protein intake was poor in the PD group. The long-term consequences of these changes remain to be studied.


adipose tissue; diet; insulin resistance; postmenopausal; weight

Extra navigation