January 3/London/Sunday Sun -- Curbing the carbs could be doing us more harm than good, according to new research.
New scientific research has shown that low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets -- made popular by the likes of the Atkins diet -- do not achieve more weight loss than low-fat high-carbohydrate diets.
Worryingly, the research, led by Dr. Steven Hunter from the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, also shows significantly increased risks of cardiovascular disease for people following low-carbohydrate high-fat diets.
The research shows that the risks of low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets far outweigh the potential benefits gained by overweight and obese people through weight loss, including risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Dr. Hunter said, "The worldwide obesity pandemic is a major public health concern and strongly linked to rises in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
"By advocating low-carbohydrate high-fat diets as a weapon against obesity and diabetes, health professionals could be contributing to a dangerous rise in cardiovascular disease".
The research study, conducted among a group of obese, pre-diabetic adults, compared the results of following a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet (20% fat, 60% carbohydrate) with a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet (60% fat, 20% carbohydrate). It showed that in all areas, other than the risk of cardiovascular disease, the diets have equal health benefits.
Dr. Hunter added, "High-fat diets have become popular because they seemingly promote more rapid weight loss and because of their palatability. However, we now have proof that they do not help people lose weight any faster than more conventional diets, and the potential negatives of increased cardiovascular risks far outweigh the potential positives of more easily sustained dieting/weight loss, especially when there is a proven and safe alternative in low-fat, high-carbohydrate weight loss diets."
According to Dr. Hunter, the challenge now is to find ways to make low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets more palatable and easier to maintain, so that a long-term positive outcome is achieved.
The Food Standards Agency says that saturated fat should account for less than 11% of the total diet for a normal person, and Dr. Hunter concludes, "If your New Year's resolution is to lose weight, make sure you do it the right way and don't burden your body with additional, unnecessary health risks by falling for the lure of the seemingly easy and fast weight loss offered by high-fat diets.
"The best approach for your overall health is a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, coupled with exercise."
From the January 4, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition