Diet Wars take an unexpected turn

Americans, who are expected to spend more than $64 billion in the seemingly endless quest to lose weight, will be happy to hear that a major study published on July 17th in the New England Journal of Medicine might just have the answer to longer lasting results. The two-year study, conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheba, Israel, pitted the most popular diets to see which was most effective. It followed 322 obese patients who were randomly assigned to a low-fat diet (endorsed by the American Heart Association, which emphasizes grains, whole wheat pasta and bread, fruits and vegetables), a low-carb diet (which touts meat, fish, chicken, eggs, and just a few vegetables) or a Mediterranean diet, (which includes lean protein and vegetables, along with lots of olive oil and nuts). After two years, low-fat dieters lost an average of 7.3 pounds, those following the Mediterranean diet shed 10.1 pounds, and low-carb dieters peeled off the most weight, losing an average of 12.1 pounds. Dr. Meir Stampfer, the study's senior author and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, told ABC News: "The low-carb diet was the clear winner in providing the most weight loss." Why does low-carb dieting produce good results? The low-carb diet makes you feel fuller and it's more satiating, so you're not as hungry, according to Stampfer, who added that it’s easier to stick to that diet long term. Although the researchers found that Mediterranean dieters were most likely to improve their blood sugar levels, it’s notable that the low-carb dieters, who dined on meat, cheeses and eggs, did not have higher cholesterol levels. In fact, the low-carb diet (which lowers insulin levels in the body, thus producing less harmful cholesterol) actually lowered the cholesterol numbers of study participants. The researchers concluded that personal preferences and metabolic considerations might inform individualized tailoring of dietary interventions. Or, in language for the scientifically-impaired, do what works best for you.   New England Journal of Medicine