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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Atkins diet is 'safe and effective'

18th July 2008

A two-year study into the effectiveness of three different kinds of weight-loss programme has concluded that the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet is just as safe and effective as the conventional, low-fat variety.


Israeli, American and German researchers in Israel studied 322 overweight volunteers who were given either the Atkins diet, a calorie-restricted Mediterranean diet or a traditional low-fat diet for two years.

Those on the Atkins diet, in which carbohydrate intake is severely restricted, but calories are not, lost slightly more weight during the study than those on the other two diets.

Lead researcher Iris Shai, from the department of epidemiology at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, said he hoped the study would open the minds of clinicians to considering low-carb and Mediterranean diets as safe, effective alternatives for patients, based on personal preference and the medical goals set out for such intervention.

The "Mediterranean" diet included plenty of vegetables, fibre, white meat and fish, and was just as effective and safe as the Atkins diet, which advocates a high protein, high fat content, while virtually eliminating bread, rice, pasta and sugar.

Millions have followed the Atkins diet in recent years, but it has been criticised for its high fat content, and for the potential risk of kidney problems and heart disease by medical experts. The lack of need for calorie counting made it particularly popular with men.

Participants in the study, were assigned to one of the three diets.

The results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that those on the conventional low-fat diet lost an average of 6.5 pounds in weight over the two years - compared with 10 pounds for those on the Mediterranean diet and 10.3 pounds on the low carb, or Atkins, diet.

Most of the weight was lost in the first six months of the trial, regardless of diet allocated.

All three diets had the same beneficial effect on liver and inflammation function, but the low-carb diet was better at reducing levels of bad cholesterol.

The volunteers were mostly male employees at Israel's Nuclear Research Centre, and the main lunchtime meal was provided for them in the canteen. Participants were also given instructions about how to stay on the diet while eating at home.

By the end of the study, 85% of volunteers were still on the diet. Researchers warned that the results might prove slightly different for women.


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