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J Am Coll Nutr. 2000 Oct;19(5):578-90.

Health advantages and disadvantages of weight-reducing diets: a computer analysis and critical review.

Author information

  • 1Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40511, USA. jwandersmd@aol.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Some weight-loss diets are nutritionally sound and consistent with recommendations for healthy eating while others are "fad" diets encouraging irrational and, sometimes, unsafe practices.

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of the study was to compare several weight loss diets and assess their potential long-term effects.

DESIGN:

Eight popular weight-loss diets were selected (Atkins, Protein Power, Sugar Busters, Zone, ADA Exchange, High-Fiber Fitness, Pritikin and Omish) to be non-clinically analyzed by means of a computer to predict their relative benefits/potential harm. A summary description, menu plan and recommended snacks were developed for each diet. The nutrient composition of each diet was determined using computer software, and a Food Pyramid Score was calculated to compare diets. The Mensink, Hegsted and other formulae were applied to estimate coronary heart disease risk factors.

RESULTS:

Higher fat diets are higher in saturated fats and cholesterol than current dietary guidelines and their long-term use would increase serum cholesterol levels and risk for CHD. Diets restricted in sugar intake would lower serum cholesterol levels and long-term risk for CHD; however, higher carbohydrate, higher fiber, lower fat diets would have the greatest effect in decreasing serum cholesterol concentrations and risk of CHD.

CONCLUSIONS:

While high fat diets may promote short-term weight loss, the potential hazards for worsening risk for progression of atherosclerosis override the short-term benefits. Individuals derive the greatest health benefits from diets low in saturated fat and high in carbohydrate and fiber: these increase sensitivity to insulin and lower risk for CHD.

PMID:
11022871
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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