Although there is a general assumption that a phenylalanine (Phe)-restricted diet promotes overweight in patients with phenylketonuria (PKU), it is unclear if this presumption is supported by scientific evidence. This systematic review aimed to determine if patients with PKU are at a higher risk of overweight compared to healthy individuals. A literature search was carried out on PubMed, Cochrane Library, and Embase databases. Risk of bias of individual studies was assessed using the Quality Assessment Tool for Observational Cohort and Cross-Sectional Studies, and the quality of the evidence for each outcome was assessed using the NutriGrade scoring system. From 829 articles identified, 15 were included in the systematic review and 12 in the meta-analysis. Body mass index (BMI) was similar between patients with PKU and healthy controls, providing no evidence to support the idea that a Phe-restricted diet is a risk factor for the development of overweight. However, a subgroup of patients with classical PKU had a significantly higher BMI than healthy controls. Given the increasing prevalence of overweight in the general population, patients with PKU require lifelong follow-up, receiving personalised nutritional counselling, with methodical nutritional status monitoring from a multidisciplinary team in inherited metabolic disorders.
- body mass index
- phenylalanine restriction
- phenylalanine-restricted diet