Who Wins the JAMA Fight? Atkins (of course).

I previously posted a quote from Alywn Cosgrove – “If you’re looking to lose fat and you’re not eating a low-carbohydrate diet, you’re a fucking idiot.” – which on the surface, looks like a fairly controversial, lunatic fringe comment. After all, doesn’t every health and medical professional “know” that low-carb diets (a la Atkins) may help you lose fat, they “don’t really work better than low-fat guidelines” and that they’ll “kill you in the long-term?”

I guess the paradigm is shifting. Yesterday’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) presented a study,

“Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets for Change in Weight and Related Risk Factors Among Overweight Premenopausal Women: The A TO Z Weight Loss Study: A Randomized Trial”

that shows Atkins to be the clear winner in the diet race. Now, I’m not a medical doctor, so sadly, I have not read the full text of the study (only the abstract), so I’ll have to wait till Dr. Eades gets wind of it (probably won’t be too far off) to comment on the study specifics. That doesn’t mean, however, that I won’t comment on the study or the myriad articles written about it.

Cool things about the study itself:

1) It was a year-long trial. I believe that’s the longest multi-diet comparison trial published in JAMA.

2) Results: Atkins the clear winner with an average of 10.36lbs lost, with all other diets coming in roughly 5 pounds lost, except…

3) The Zone “lost” – Zone dieters only lost an average of 3.5 pounds.

4) Why so little weight loss in a year of dieting? They were supervised for only 2 months, then left to their own devices! This study also looked at dietary adherence. The result – everyone in the trial cheated. From my preliminary readings it seems that almost no one was following their diet recommendations. But the group that was following their recommendations most closely? *cough Atkins *cough

5) The Atkins group also had the lowest blood pressures and highest HDL (good cholesterol) levels of all the groups. Also, there was a 30% decrease in triglycerides in the Atkins dieters.

Nearly all the articles I’ve read about this study follow the same script – The doctors say, “Wow, look at these findings, aren’t they something? Too bad Atkins isn’t good for you, despite what the blood work shows.”

Eh. These are doctors? These are the guys I’m entrusting to take care of my mother and father and wife and…and…

Really, what’s the point of conducting research if you’re going to ignore it in order to preserve your personal viewpoint?

A great quote from Dr. Eric Westman of Duke Medical School:

“Every time low-carb diets are studied they do better or as well as low-fat diets,” retorted Westman. “I think it is time for people who say the diet is bad to prove it.”


EDIT(3/7/07): As usual, Dr. Mike Eades does a brilliant job of presenting and summing up the actual data of the study. If you don’t read it, you’re only getting half of the story. Plus, he shows all these pretty graphs and charts.

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