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  #1   ^
Old Mon, May-17-04, 15:46
nobimbo's Avatar
nobimbo nobimbo is offline
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Default Two New Studies Bolster Case for Atkins Diet

Studies Bolster Case for Atkins Diet
By Karen Pallarito
HealthDay Reporter


MONDAY, May 17 (HealthDayNews) -- Two new studies seem to provide further evidence that a low-carbohydrate regimen is at least as effective as a low-fat diet in helping people drop excess weight without harming their cholesterol levels.

The studies described in the May 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine support the late Dr. Robert Atkins, the controversial New York cardiologist who popularized a high-protein, high-fat approach that severely restricts carbohydrate consumption.

In both studies, low-carb dieters lost more weight at the end of six months than people on a low-fat diet. They also had lower levels of triglycerides -- blood fats that can raise the risk of heart attack or stroke -- and improved levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the so-called "good" cholesterol.

After a year, people on the low-carb diet had better triglyceride and HDL levels than those on a conventional low-fat diet, although weight loss was similar between the two groups.

"Clearly, all of these studies show that a low-carb diet is an option for people," said Dr. William S. Yancy, a research associate at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and lead author of one of the studies.

Critics, however, remain unconvinced. These short-term studies do not measure the potential long-term risk for heart disease, the nation's top killer. Without solid evidence, no one really knows whether the Atkins approach can produce lasting weight loss without damaging the heart, they say.

"The public has been misled enough already," said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, a nutrition spokesman for the American Heart Association, and a professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.

Skeptics also point to a potential conflict of interest. One of the studies was supported by a grant from the Robert C. Atkins Foundation.

Atkins died in April 2003 after a severe head injury left him comatose, but his unconventional weight-loss approach has persevered. The Atkins diet gained new respect last May when two studies in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested the plan is more effective than a traditional low-fat diet in helping people shed unwanted pounds without boosting their cholesterol levels.

The new studies seem to bolster those results.

One study is believed to be the longest and largest low-carb vs. low-fat face-off to date, involving people with diabetes or who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Lead author Dr. Linda Stern, an internal medicine physician at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and colleagues followed 132 obese adults over a 12-month period. Eighty-three percent of them had diabetes or metabolic syndrome, a combination of disorders that can lead to greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.

Participants were randomly assigned to either a restricted carbohydrate diet -- less than 30 grams of carbohydrates a day -- or a conventional diet that cut caloric intake by 500 calories a day, with less than 30 percent of calories from fat.

At six months, the low-carb dieters lost more weight than the low-fat group. By 12 months, though, their weight loss was similar -- roughly 11 to 19 pounds for the low-carb group and seven to 19 pounds for the low-fat group.

The difference is that the low-carb group maintained most of its six-month weight loss over the year, while the low-fat group continued to lose weight after six months. Another key difference is the low-carb group's blood fat levels decreased more, and their good cholesterol decreased less than the low-fat dieters.

The findings may be limited because of a high dropout rate, the authors concede. Overall, 34 percent ended their participation before the study was completed. Twenty were on the low-carb diet and 25 were on the conventional diet.

"I think at this point I have no compunctions recommending to patients cutting out simple carbohydrates," Stern said.

The second study reported in the same issue of the journal followed 120 overweight people for six months. Low-carb dieters dropped an average of 26 pounds, compared to an average of 14 pounds shed by the low-fat group. The low-carb group also had greater decreases in blood fat levels and greater increases in good cholesterol than their counterparts on a low-fat diet.

Unlike other studies, people on the low-carb diet received daily multivitamins and other nutritional supplements like those recommended for people on the Atkins diet. One was an essential-oils supplement containing 1,200 milligrams of fish oil, known for its heart-healthy properties.

"This alone would account for lower triglyceride levels in the low-carb group," noted Katherine Tallmadge, a nutritionist, author, and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "Why didn't they give the supplements to the low-fat group as well? If they did, that group's triglycerides would have fallen, too."

So what's the bottom line for Americans struggling to trim down? Do these studies vindicate an Atkins-like diet or give critics more reason to vilify the approach?

Since study participants "self-reported" the food they ate and how much physical activity they got, it isn't possible to measure how many calories each group actually consumed and expended, said Tallmadge. "In any case, if they lost more weight, they were eating fewer calories," she concluded.

But in an editorial accompanying the two articles, Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, suggested that a low-carb diet may not be a bad way to go.

"We can no longer dismiss very-low-carbohydrate diets," he wrote. Instead of choosing a diet that promises rapid weight loss, people should find a way to eat that they can stick with over time, he said. That may mean experimenting with reduced-carb diets, as long as they emphasize healthy sources of fat and protein and include regular physical activity, he cautioned.

People should see a doctor before starting any diet, particularly if they are taking medications or have other health problems. While a low-carb diet may end up being very good for these types of patients, more study is needed, Yancy said.

Most people, though, can safely cut back on carbohydrates and have beneficial results, Stern noted. "There's no precautions in telling people to cut out soda and french fries, doughnuts, and cookies. There's not a downside to that."

More information

Count your own carbs with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while the Harvard School of Public Health explains what they are.

http://www.forbes.com/health/feeds/...cout519010.html
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  #2   ^
Old Mon, May-17-04, 15:52
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nobimbo nobimbo is offline
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Scientists give thumbs-up to Atkins

Low-carbohydrate Atkins-style diets were given a vote of approval today by two separate teams of scientists.

Both studies compared the effect of low-carbohydrate and conventional low-fat diets on groups of overweight patients.

Each found that after six months the low-carb group had lost more weight. Their levels of triglycerides - blood fats linked to heart disease - were also significantly lower.

While changes in "bad" cholesterol - low density lipoprotein -(LDL) were not significant, the low-carb group ended up with higher levels of "good" cholesterol, or high density lipoprotein (HDL).

Although the low-carb dieters lost more weight initially, one of the studies showed that after 12 months both groups had shed about the same number of pounds.

Nevertheless, the scientists were impressed by the effectiveness of the Atkins-style diet.

Researchers from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, assigned 120 obese volunteers either to a low-carbohydrate, high protein diet, or a low-fat, low cholesterol diet.

After six months the Atkins-style dieters had lost an average of 26lbs, compared with 14lbs for the low-fat dieters. They also lost more body fat, nearly halved their triglyceride levels, and their HDL levels jumped five points.

Powerful

Dr Will Yancy, who led the study, said: "This diet can be quite powerful. We found that the low-carb diet was more effective for weight loss. The weight loss surprised me, to be honest with you."

The other study, conducted by researchers at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia, followed 132 obese patients split into low-carb and low-fat groups.

After six months, the low-carb group had lost more weight. But continuing the study to 12 months showed that by this time both groups had lost about the same, up to 19lbs.

Triglyceride levels had decreased more and HDL levels less for the low-carb dieters.

Dr Linda Stern, who led the Philadelphia study, said: "I think a low-carbohydrate diet is a good choice because much of our overeating has to do with consumption of too many carbohydrates."

However, she said more research was needed to see if a low-carb diet remained safe and effective over long periods of time.

Both studies were published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Dr Walter Willett, from the Harvard School of Public Health, who wrote an editorial accompanying the papers, said: "We can no longer dismiss very low-carbohydrate diets. We can encourage overweight patients to experiment with various methods for weight control, including reduced carbohydrate diets, as long as they emphasise healthy sources of fat and protein and incorporate regular physical activity.

"Patients should focus on finding ways to eat that they can maintain indefinitely rather than seeking diets that promote rapid weight loss."

http://www.manchesteronline.co.uk/n..._to_atkins.html
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  #3   ^
Old Mon, May-17-04, 16:22
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Angeline Angeline is offline
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I just can't believe how timid they are about recommending low-carb. They are praising the effects of the diet, weight loss, improved cholesterol yet they keep harping about the possible long term effects of low-carb. Is really the best they can do ?
Quote:
Most people, though, can safely cut back on carbohydrates and have beneficial results, Stern noted. "There's no precautions in telling people to cut out soda and french fries, doughnuts, and cookies. There's not a downside to that
I don't think he is risking his reputation telling people to cut down on junk food!

What gets me is I don't remember any hesitation about recommending low-fat. There was never any concern for long term effets. No caution. Just a overwhelming acceptation of a totally unproven method.

Well, I suppose that they have learned their lesson, and don't want to see history repeat itself. That's the only positive spin I can put on this.

Don't mistake me. I recognize that this is a positive outcome. I'm just irritated by all this pussing footing around.
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  #4   ^
Old Mon, May-17-04, 17:05
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Nancy LC Nancy LC is offline
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Quote:
Critics, however, remain unconvinced. These short-term studies do not measure the potential long-term risk for heart disease, the nation's top killer. Without solid evidence, no one really knows whether the Atkins approach can produce lasting weight loss without damaging the heart, they say.

"The public has been misled enough already," said Dr. Robert H. Eckel, a nutrition spokesman for the American Heart Association, and a professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver.



Mislead? Yeah, by the claims your doofus organization makes about lowfat diets. You need a good bonk on the head with a clue by 4.
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  #5   ^
Old Mon, May-17-04, 22:49
PacNW PacNW is offline
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1. I think Willett has in the past said "we don't know enough about the long-term implications of" LC WOE. I think his current position ("We can no longer dismiss very-low-carbohydrate diets") represents a subtle, but definite shift.

2. The headlines on these two studies reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine have started to shift. Some newspapers are saying "scientific proof for Atkins diet" or words to that effect. Others are now saying Low Carb/Low Fat--It is All the Same (after one year).

3. Good thing they have 2 ns in Annals.

Last edited by PacNW : Tue, May-18-04 at 04:59.
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