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Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2006 May-Jun;10(3):99-106.

The effects of a low-carbohydrate versus low-fat diet on adipocytokines in severely obese adults: three-year follow-up of a randomized trial.

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Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



Adipocytokines are associated with insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease and can be modified with weight loss. While we previously demonstrated weight loss and a reduction in leptin in obese adults who followed a low-carbohydrate diet for 6 months, the long-term effects of this diet on adipocytokines are unknown.


132 obese adults with a body mass index of > or = 35 kg/m2 were randomized to receive one year of dietary counseling to follow either a low-carbohydrate diet < 30 g/day (LC) or a caloric-restricted diet (reduced by 500 calories/day with < 30% of calories from fat) (LF). Weight, leptin, adiponectin, TNF-alpha, CRP, and insulin were measured at 0, 6, and 36 months (24 months post-counseling). Follow-up data at was collected for 53 participants who returned at 36 months.


Mean weight change from baseline was not different between the groups at 36 months. Between 6 and 36 months weight was unchanged for LF, while LC appeared to regain weight [+ 4.84 +/- 35.6 kg (+ 3.0%)]. This difference, however, was not significant (p = 0.08). Leptin was unchanged in LF at both 6 and 36 months. In LC leptin decreased by 8.49 +/- 6.4 ng/mL or 22.7% at 6 months (p < 0.001) and increased by 10.68 +/- 25.2 ng/mL or 41.9% between 6 and 36 months (p = 0.02). There were no differences in insulin, adiponectin, TNF-alpha, or CRP between the groups.


Favorable changes in leptin that accompany weight loss are not sustained in individuals who followed a low-carbohydrate diet for one year. A low-carbohydrate diet had no significant effect on insulin, adiponectin, TNF-alpha, or CRP compared to a low-fat diet at 36 months.

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