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Highlights from the October 2007 Journal of the American Dietetic Association

CHICAGO The October 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association contains articles and research studies you may find of interest. Below is a summary of some of this months articles. For more information or to receive a copy of a Journal article, e-mail

A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight Loss Diets

The Alternate Healthy Eating Index measures and compares factors in a persons diet that are strongly linked to reducing risk for cardiovascular disease. According to researchers at the University of Massachusetts who compared the dietary quality of several popular weight-loss plans, none of the plans achieved a perfect AHEI score, but the Ornish, Weight Watchers high-carbohydrate and New Glucose Revolution plans were among the best performers using the AHEI and traditional dietary quality assessments.

The researchers calculated the AHEI from meal plans taken from books or Web sites for the New Glucose Revolution, WeightWatchers, Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Ornish and 2005 U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPyramid plans. Of a maximum possible score of 70, the AHEI scores for each weight-loss plan were:

  • Ornish: 64.6
  • WeightWatchers high-carbohydrate: 57.4
  • New Glucose Revolution: 57.2
  • South Beach Phase 2: 50.7
  • Zone: 49.8
  • MyPyramid: 48.7
  • Weight Watchers high-protein: 47.3
  • Atkins 100-g carbohydrate: 46
  • South Beach Phase 3: 45.6
  • Atkins 45-g carbohydrate: 42.3

The researchers conclude that the AHEI is a valuable tool in selecting a weight-loss plan that maximizes both weight loss and (cardiovascular disease) prevention. Since the study was based on meal plans as described by their creators, the researchers recommend further study to observe what patients actually consume when following a popular weight-loss plan.

Canola Oil Increases Compliance with Dietary Recommendations for Fatty Acids

Peoples intake of fatty acids which have been linked to cardiovascular disease and other conditions can be substantially affected by changing the type of vegetable oil they use, according to researchers at the University of Illinois and Pennsylvania State University.

Substituting canola oil and canola-based margarine for vegetable oils and spreads, such as corn, cottonseed and soybean, increases compliance with dietary recommendations for saturated fatty acid, monounsaturated fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid, the researchers write in their study of data from nearly 9,000 U.S. adults.

According to the researchers, switching to canola-based products 100 percent of the time would decrease adults saturated fatty acid intake by up to 9.4 percent; increase their intake of monounsaturated fatty acid by 27.6 percent; and increase their alpha-linolenic acid intakes by73 percent. Total consumption of calories, total fat and cholesterol would not change.

Government and health organizations have issued guidelines and recommendations for fatty acid and cholesterol consumption to lower peoples risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, and other health problems. According to the researchers: Increasing substitution of canola oil for selected vegetable oils and of canola oil-based margarine for other margarines and butter in the diet of U.S. adults would increase the percentage of Americans in compliance with all current fatty acid-based dietary recommendations, except the Institute of Medicines recommended Adequate Intake of linoleic acid, which is necessary for cell structure and making hormones.

The results of this study show that fatty acid intake can be influenced substantially through a simple recommendation to change the type of vegetable oil used at the table and in cooking, the researchers conclude.

The study was supported by the U.S. Canola Association.

Additional research articles in the October Journal of the American Dietetic Association include:

  • Dietary Patterns in the Mexican American Population and Their Association with Obesity
  • Breast Feeding Is Associated with Lower Risk of Overweight among Children of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands
  • Plausible Reports of Energy Intake May Predict Body Mass Index in Pre-Adolescent Girls
  • Weight Loss Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Weight Loss Clinical Trials with a Minimum One-Year Follow-Up
  • Carbohydrate Quantity and Quality in Relation to Body Mass Index
  • Greater Nutrition Knowledge is Associated with Lower One-Year Postpartum Weight Retention in Low-Income Women
  • Comparison of Techniques to Self-Monitoring Eating and Exercise Behaviors on Weight Loss in a Correspondence-Based Intervention


Contact: Jennifer Starkey
American Dietetic Association

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