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Is low-carbohydrate diet effective?

[Is low-carbohydrate diet effective?]

CONTROVERSY: IS LOW CARBOHYDRATE DIET: IS IT EFFECTIVE?

Trying to lose weight is a very common behavior in most Western countries (e.g. in the United States, roughly 40% of the population do so at any given time).

Whereas the current consensus recommendation from most medical societies and experts advise a low-fat and balanced carbo-hydrate diet, some popular diets have been promoted recommending low-carbohydrate, high-protein and high-fat diets (Atkins diets).

For the first time, an American team has designed a randomized study comparing the two types of diet *(one year, multicenter, and controlled trial) .In order to replicate the behavior of most dieters, professional contact (appointments) were kept minimal. Results were expressed in percent of lost body weight, and were clear: the Atkins diet produces initially (at 6 months) greater weight-loss than the conventional diet - 6,8% versus 2,7% -, but after one year there was no significant difference any more - 4,4% versus 2,5%.
These data suggest that there is a poor long-term adherence to Atkins diets.It has also been observed that 6 months results of Atkins diet were similar to those obtained by behavioral therapies and pharmacologic treatments (drugs). One does not know exactly why there is a short-term difference in weight-loss between the two types of diet, but it is suspected that the simplicity and monotony of Atkins diets play an important part. Central statiety factors are also considered. Blood sample analysis were conducted and showed surprising results with lipids though: high density cholesterol levels were higher and triglycerides levels lower in patients wityh Atkins diets, indicating that risk factors for coronary heart disease could be improved. But this has to be tested with other studies...

*A randomized trial of a low-carbohydrate diet for obesity. GD Foster et col. The New England Journal of Medicine,2003;348: 2082-90.

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