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BACKGROUND: A substantial fall in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) during puberty in boys, but not girls, has been reported in Western populations. The fall in boys is believed to be due to hormonal changes--androgens have been shown to be associated with lower HDL-C, whereas oestrogens are associated with higher HDL-C. The fall in HDL-C during puberty was not observed, however, in a study of Moslem boys in Israel, nor in a group of Japanese boys. A diet high in phyto-oestrogens may account for the lack of a fall in HDL-C in these populations. OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of dietary supplementation with phyto-oestrogens on the HDL-C concentration of adolescent boys from a Western population. We hypothesised that dietary supplementation of 50 mg of the isoflavones daidzein and genistein would produce a 12% higher HDL-C concentration than in controls at the end of a 6-week intervention period. DESIGN: A randomised controlled trial. SETTING: Hellyer College in Burnie (Tasmania, Australia). SUBJECTS: Adolescent boys (aged 16-18 years) were recruited through a letter sent to parents. A total of 132 eligible participants enrolled and five subjects withdrew from the trial. RESULTS: No significant increase in HDL-C was observed in the treatment group (-0.02 mmol l(-1), standard error (SE)=0.03, P = 0.53) or the placebo group (0.05 mmol l(-1), SE = 0.03, P = 0.11). CONCLUSIONS: Factors other than isolated dietary isoflavones may be responsible for the lack of fall in HDL-C during puberty in Japanese and Moslem boys.

Original publication




Journal article


Public Health Nutr

Publication Date





955 - 962


Adolescent, Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena, Australia, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cholesterol, HDL, Cross-Cultural Comparison, Dietary Services, Humans, Isoflavones, Israel, Japan, Male, Phytoestrogens, Puberty, Tasmania, Treatment Outcome