Atkins Diet Helps Weight Loss Faster Than Low-Fat Diets, New Study Says
In a small study of obese women released last week at the annual meeting of the American Dietetic Association, participants in the low-carbohydrate, high-fat Atkins diet trimmed "significantly" more pounds and body fat than women on a low-fat diet, the Washington Post reports. The study examined 53 women ages 31 to 59 for six months. Half of the participants ate a low-fat diet -- 30% of calories from fat -- while the others followed the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet. The report shows that the Atkins group over the six-month period lost an average of 18.5 pounds, approximately 10 pounds from body fat and the rest from water and lean muscle loss, and the low-fat group lost nine pounds, about five pounds from body fat, according to the Post. While the Atkins group initially lost more weight, the group found it more difficult to stay with their low-carbohydrate diet than did the low-fat group, according to study lead author and registered dietician Bonnie Brehm, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing. During the first three months of the study, women received counseling with a registered dietician and in the remaining three months of the study were told to adhere to their diets on their own. The study does not address some scientists' concern that those who use the Atkins diet over the long term experience higher rates of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease or other illnesses linked to a diet high in saturated fat and protein, the Post reports.
Brehm said, "This is one, relatively short-term study. Our conclusions are that in the short term, a low-carbohydrate diet produces loss of weight and body fat. ... We by no means are recommending the Atkins diet from this one study." Brehm intends to determine why Atkins dieters lost more weight than the women on the low-fat diet in a follow-up study, the Post reports. James Hill, director of clinical nutrition at the University of Colorado, said, "This is good because it says that people can lose weight on the Atkins diet." He added, however, that "we've seen this on almost any diet that has come along. You can go out and lose weight, but two to three years later, it has no effect." Hill said it is possible that some people have better success with the Atkins diet approach while others succeed with a more "traditional," low-fat diet recommended by NIH, the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. "We still know so little about weight loss that I am willing to accept that we don't yet know the best way to help people succeed," he added (Squires, Washington Post, 10/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.