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Low Carb-, Low-Fat Diets Tied for Long-Term Weight Loss
Date:8/3/2010

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- If you're overweight, should you cut carbs or fat?

A new two-year study suggests that it may not matter in the long run: When combined with extensive guidance about eating and exercise, people lost about the same amount of weight whether they were on an Atkins-style, low-carbohydrate diet or a traditional low-fat diet.

"In general, dieters should be less concerned about what diet they're on and more focused on finding strategies to stick to the diet they chose," advised study author Gary D. Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research & Education at Temple University.

There are some caveats, however. People in both groups only lost an average of about 7 percent of their weight two years after beginning their diet, although that added up because they were typically very overweight.

And those who were on the low-carb diet did get one extra benefit: Their blood pressure and levels of "good" cholesterol improved a bit more than those who cut down on fat.

The study appears in the Aug. 3 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

There's long been research into which diet is the best. But this study is unique because it looks at how diets work over the longer term, Foster said.

In the study, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, researchers followed 307 overweight people for two years as they participated in a low-carbohydrate diet -- fashioned after the Atkins diet -- or a low-fat diet that was also low in calories.

Their average age was 45 and their average body-mass index was 36, meaning they were typically obese, a step beyond simply being overweight.

Those on the low-fat diet were told to eat 1,200-1,800 calories a day, with fewer than 30 percent of them from fat. Those on the low-carb diet were instructed to eat no more than 20 grams of carbs a day, although they could eat all t
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