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 July 23, 2003
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Atkins Diet vs. Conventional Diet
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PHILADELPHIA (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study compares two popular diets and shows the dieters in the two groups lost about the same amount of weight after one year, but there were health differences between the two diets.

About 45 percent of women and 30 percent of men in the United States are trying to lose weight at any given moment. The conventional diet approach is a high-carbohydrate, low-fat, energy-deficit diet, but the popularity of the Atkins diet has challenged this approach. The Atkins diet consists of a low-carbohydrate, high-protein and high-fat diet. Despite the popularity of the Atkins program, there has never been a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate it. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine conducted a study comparing the Atkins diet to the conventional diet in obese participants.

The 63 obese men and women were randomly assigned to follow one of the two diets. Contact with these individuals during the study was kept to a minimum to replicate the approach used by most dieters.

Researchers found the participants on the Atkins diet lost 4-percent more weight during the first six months. However, at the one-year mark, there was no difference in weight loss between the two groups. Researchers also studied cholesterol levels in the participants. Results show the increase in high-density lipoprotein or the "good" cholesterol and the decrease in triglycerides was greater among those on the Atkins diet. Both diets decreased blood pressure and improved insulin response in the body.

Researchers conclude the low-carbohydrate diet produced greater weight loss during the first six months, but weight loss difference was not seen at the end of 12 months. However, the low-carbohydrate diet was associated with greater improvements in some risk factors for heart disease. Researchers note adherence to both diets was poor in both groups. They say longer and larger studies are needed to determine the long-term safety and efficacy of diets like the Atkins diet.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, 2003;348:2082-2090

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