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Study: Low-carb diet more effective than low-fat diet

low-carbohydrate diet can lead to weight loss -- the first study of the low carbohydrate diet since 1980. Yancy and co-investigator Eric Westman, M.D., are currently testing whether a low-carbohydrate diet can help diabetics control their blood sugar levels.

Despite the considerable weight loss experienced by the low-carbohydrate dieters, Yancy does not recommend an Atkins-style plan for patients attempting to lose weight for the first time.

"Over six months the diet appears relatively safe, but we need to study the safety for longer durations," Yancy said. He also cautioned that the diet could present certain health risks, such as elevations in LDL cholesterol levels, bone loss, or kidney stones. This and other recent studies of the low-carbohydrate diet have not demonstrated that these health risks occur over short durations, but they might occur in people on the diet for long-term. It is especially important that people on diuretic or diabetes medications be monitored by a doctor because the low-carbohydrate diet affects hydration and blood sugar levels, Yancy said.

The 120 study participants were randomly assigned to either the low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet or the low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-calorie diet. All were between 18 and 65 years old and in generally good health, with a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 60, indicating obesity, and a total cholesterol level of more than 200 mg/dL. None had tried dieting or weight loss pills in the previous six months.

The low-carbohydrate group was permitted daily unlimited amounts of animal foods (meat, fowl, fish and shellfish); unlimited eggs; 4 oz. of hard cheese; two cups of salad vegetables such as lettuce, spinach or celery; and one cup of low-carbohydrate vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower or squash. They also received daily nutritional supplements recommended by Atkins -- a multivitamin, essential oils, a diet formulation and chromium picolinate. There were no rest
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Contact: Becky Oskin
becky.oskin@duke.edu
919-684-4148
Duke University Medical Center
17-May-2004


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