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When weight loss is the goal, most diets restrict calories. It is a relatively simple concept--a person can lose weight by taking in fewer calories than he or she expends. But does it matter where the calories come from? It might, according to findings from a small study published in the December 2005 issue of the medical journal Diabetes Care. Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University discovered that a diet's overall "glycemic load" may be an important determinant of weight loss, but only for some people.

Senior author Susan Roberts, PhD, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Center says, "Our results suggest that in the future there may be a way to predict who will do best on a low glycemic load diet." The key, they have found, may be in knowing a person's level of insulin secretion.

"Insulin is a hormone that is important in glucose (sugar) metabolism," explains senior author Andrew Greenberg, MD, director of the Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory at the Center. "The regulation of body weight is, at least in part, influenced by how much insulin a person secretes in response to a load of glucose, as well as by how sensitive that person is to insulin's glucose-lowering effects."

"In our study," says first author Anastassios Pittas, MD, assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, "everyone lost some weight as a result of restricting calories, but people who had high levels of insulin secretion and ate a diet with a low glycemic load lost the most weight."

As part of the ongoing Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE) trial at Tufts, the authors studied 32 healthy overweight adults on a reduced-calorie diet for six months. Half of the subjects were randomly assigned to a low glycemic load diet, and the other half followed a diet with a high glycemic load.
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Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
617-636-6586
Tufts University
7-Dec-2005


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