UH Cancer Center studies ways to reduce abdominal fat to lower cancer risk

May 23, 2022

A new diet study led by University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center researchers, Loïc Le Marchand, MD, PhD, and Carol Boushey, PhD, MPH, RD, called The Healthy Diet and Lifestyle Study II, is investigating if specific changes in dietary habits, along with a regular physical activity plan, can affect the amount of fat stored in your abdomen and the rest of the body to reduce disease risk.

In the first Healthy Diet and Lifestyle Study, researchers developed an intermittent energy restriction diet and showed its potential for reducing intra-abdominal fat (“visceral fat”) and modifying the gut microbiome—the group of microorganisms that normally lives in our large bowel—to be healthier. This new study is an expanded, 24-week, randomized trial to compare two different energy restrictive diets to reduce intra-abdominal and total body fat, and potentially reduce risks of certain chronic diseases related to being overweight or obese.

This study aims to test the difference between two approaches to energy (calorie) restriction, assess participants' adherence to the diets, and whether either diet helps to reduce the fat wrapped around the internal abdominal organs. It also looks at the effect of these diets on the gut microbiome.

Participants will be randomly assigned to either energy restrictive, health-promoting diets and asked to follow their diet for 24 weeks under the supervision of a dietitian. Both groups will be asked to follow an exercise plan and use the study’s mobile phone app to take photos of their foods on specific days. Body measurements, including measurements of body fat, will be taken at three time points and six-month after study completion by trained clinic staff.

Men and women residents of Oʻahu, ages 35–69, who are overweight or obese, have not smoked in the past two years, and are of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or European White ancestry may be eligible to participate in this study.

“This study offers Oʻahu residents an opportunity to lose some weight and get in shape under the guidance of an experienced team of dietitians specially trained for the study” said Boushey.

Findings from this study will provide researchers information on which diet is better at reducing intra-abdominal fat and total body fat and whether the gut microbiome plays a role. This information may provide an approach to reducing risk of chronic diseases related to excessive weight gain during adulthood.

For more information about the study, call (808) 237-3901 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..