June 12/Denver/PRNewswire -- Atkins Nutritionals Inc. announced that a recently released epidemiology study published inNutrition Journalhas come to the mistaken conclusion that a low-carbohydrate diet, like the Atkins Diet, is to blame for rising cholesterol levels between 1986 and 2010 in a Swedish population.  However, based on the study abstract, this population actually consumed a high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, which is very different from the Atkins Diet.

Based on the Swedish study of food frequency questionnaires, during 2010 the population consumed a diet with carbohydrates making up 45.9% of calories and 39.9% of calories from fat.  In contrast, with Atkins, in the early weight loss phases, only 10% of calories come from healthy carbohydrates, and the remaining calories come from a variety of protein choices, as well as healthy fats such as olive oil and avocado.   Foods associated with the high fat intake in this Swedish study were "fats used for spreading on bread and cooking, dairy products, oil for salad dressing or cooking, various types of meats, and sausages, as main dishes or on sandwiches, pizza, deep fried potato chips, French fries, including corn chips and popcorn."

"This food intake is not reflective of the Atkins dietary program," said Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education for Atkins Nutritionals, Inc.  "The Swedish study is a case study of what happens when a population consumes high carbohydrate combined with high fat.  In fact, BMI increased, as did markers for heart disease.  Fat poses no risk when carbohydrate consumption is low enough to allow the body to burn fat for fuel. This has been demonstrated in clinical trials time and time again, consistently supporting the conclusion that a well-constructed Atkins Diet lowers risk factors for heart disease.  What this study does showcase is that the Swedish researchers need to take a close look at the mounting evidence that the low-carbohydrate approach to weight loss and long-term weight maintenance is not only effective but also safe and beneficial to every clinical measure looked at to date."

Representatives from the Science Advisory Board for Atkins Nutritionals Inc. have weighed-in on the mistaken assumptions made by the study:

"This study does not take into account other variables or factors taking place in the Swedish demographic in this time period," said Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, PhD., MD.  "For one, they do not take into consideration the effect of age on the population.  The Swedish population is rapidly aging, and this is most notable in the northern part of the country where this study was done and I did not see where they corrected their data on weight or cholesterol for change in mean age.  And most importantly, anyone attempting to assess health risk by change in total cholesterol does not appreciate the science of the last 30 years.  Particularly notable is the lack of information on serum HDL cholesterol and triglycerides."

"This study completely ignores a large body of literature that points to health-promoting effects of low carbohydrate diets.   A well formulated low carbohydrate diet, like the Atkins Diet, has been shown in numerous studies to result in favorable effects on cholesterol, saturated fat levels in the body, and other cardio-metabolic markers, especially in individuals who have insulin resistance," said Dr. Jeff Volek, PhD., RD.

Over the past few decades, health researchers who have studied the Atkins approach have found that low-carbohydrate is a viable, safe, effective and sound alternative for those individuals who prefer this style of eating and dietary management, and especially those with metabolic syndrome.  Health professionals are recognizing that one diet does not fit all types of individuals. The Atkins approach has consistently been found to warrant consideration in the global fight against obesity and the concomitant chronic diseases associated with it.

 From the June 12, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily News