Objective:To investigate whether a hypo-energetic low-fat diet is superior to a hypo-energetic high-fat diet for the treatment of obesity.Design:Open-label, 10-week dietary intervention comparing two hypo-energetic (-600 kcal/day) diets with a fat energy percent of 20-25 or 40-45.Subjects:Obese (BMI >/=30 kg/m(2)) adult subjects (n=771), from eight European centers.Measurements:Body weight loss, dropout rates, proportion of subjects who lost more than 10% of initial body weight, blood lipid profile, insulin and glucose.Results:The dietary fat energy percent was 25% in the low-fat group and 40% in the high-fat group (mean difference: 16 (95% confidence interval (CI) 15-17)%). Average weight loss was 6.9 kg in the low-fat group and 6.6 kg in the high-fat group (mean difference: 0.3 (95% CI -0.2 to 0.8) kg). Dropout was 13.6% (n=53) in the low-fat group and 18.3% (n=70) in the high-fat group (P=0.001). Among completers, more subjects lost >10% in the low-fat group than in the high-fat group ((20.8%, n=70) versus (14.7%, n=46), P=0.02). Fasting plasma total, low-density lipoprotein- and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol decreased in both groups, but more so in the low-fat group than in the high-fat group. Fasting plasma insulin and glucose were lowered equally by both diets.Conclusions:The low-fat diet produced similar mean weight loss as the high-fat diet, but resulted in more subjects losing >10% of initial body weight and fewer dropouts. Both diets produced favorable changes in fasting blood lipids, insulin and glucose.International Journal of Obesity advance online publication, 6 December 2005; doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803186.