NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Atkins Diet Meats With Success

December 12, 2002

For years, nutritionists have raised concerns about the Atkins Diet because it runs counter to the advice of major health organizations, which advocate a diet relatively low in saturated (animal) fat and high in complex carbohydrates (grains and vegetables). But Atkins followers may not have to apologize much longer. Several new studies show that some dieters lose more weight on the Atkins plan than on more conventional low-fat diets.

A study of 120 overweight volunteers, conducted at Duke University Medical School had patients follow either the Atkins diet or an American Heart Association low-fat plan.

  • After six months, low-fat dieters had lost 20 pounds; the Atkins dieters had lost 31 pounds, and they were more likely to adhere to the diet.
  • Total cholesterol went down 6% for the low-fat group vs. 4% for the Atkins group.
  • Dieters following the low-fat regimen had a 22% drop in blood fats known as triglycerides and no increase in HDL, or "good" cholesterol. The Atkins dieters experienced a 49% drop in triglycerides and an 11% increase in HDL.

In another study, researchers at the University of Cincinnati had 53 obese women, ages 29 to 59, follow either the Atkins diet or a diet that got 30% of calories from fat. In contrast, Atkins dieters typically get about 60% of calories from fat, 30% from protein and 10% from carbohydrates.

  • After six months, the Atkins dieters lost an average 18.5 pounds; the other group, 8.5.
  • Both groups had normal cholesterol and experienced similar improvements in blood fats, says lead researcher Bonnie Brehm, assistant professor of nutrition in the College of Nursing.

Source: Nanci Hellmich, "Atkins Diet Meets With Success," USA Today, December 2002.

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