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For Lower Blood Pressure, Low-Carb Diet May Be Best
Date:1/25/2010

But for weight loss alone, other plans also work well, studies find

MONDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- A low-carbohydrate diet helps people shed as many pounds as a low-fat diet plus the weight-loss drug orlistat does, and the low-carb plan may be better at helping lower blood pressure, researchers report.

Their study, published in the Jan. 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that both diets helped participants lose almost 10 percent of their body weight.

"Weight loss was similar but substantial in both groups we studied, but blood pressure improved more in the low-carb dieters," said study author Dr. William Yancy Jr., an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center and a staff physician at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

"There are options out there. Pick a diet you think you could stick to better, and work with your physician to help you target the right intervention for you," he advised. Two other studies in the same issue of the journal look at the effectiveness of the anti-hypertension DASH diet and a physician-supervised plan.

Obesity is a significant contributor to many illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and many cancers, according to an editorial in the same journal by Dr. Robert Kushner of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. More than one-third of American adults are obese, and the incidence of obesity has gone up 140 percent over the past decade, Kushner notes.

Yancy's study included 146 overweight or obese adults who were randomly assigned to a low-carbohydrate diet or orlistat with a low-fat diet. The average age of the study participants was 52 and the average body-mass index was 39 (30 and over is considered obese). Orlistat is marketed as Xenical, a prescription medication, and Alli, available over the counter.

The low-carb diet began with a carbohydrate
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