PURPOSE: To determine the effects of olestra, a zero-calorie fat substitute that is neither digested nor absorbed, on the well-being and disease state of persons with chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in remission.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Eighty-nine patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis (n = 43) or Crohn’s disease (n = 46) in remission, with a history of disease of 2 years or longer, were enrolled in this prospective study from nine private practices, three university-based medical centers, and one Veterans Administration medical center in the United States. Forty-four patients were randomly assigned to receive olestra and 45 to receive triglycerides in chips or cookies daily for 4 weeks. At Week 4, patients were classified as in remission, worsened, or relapsed according to an investigator’s global assessment based on sigmoidoscopy (for ulcerative colitis) or the Crohn’s disease activity index, laboratory findings, and clinical course.
RESULTS: At Week 4, the olestra and triglyceride groups did not differ significantly with respect to the percentages of patients who relapsed ( ; difference = 2.4%; upper 95% CL = 8.8%) or with respect to the percentages of patients who experienced any worsening of their symptoms ( ; difference = 0.2%; upper 95% CL = 13.3%). Of evaluable patients, 90% (37 of 41) given olestra remained in remission with no worsening, compared with 90% (38 of 42) given triglycerides. Gastrointestinal symptoms were comparable between the treatment groups, and there were no treatment-related laboratory abnormalities. Six patients were excluded from analysis for reasons unrelated to treatment.
CONCLUSION: Olestra did not affect the activity of quiescent mild to moderate IBD