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Weight Loss Diets Study
Low Saturated Fat Diet High in Carbs and Fiber Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Reduces Heart Disease Risk
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Weight Loss Study Aim

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

Weight Loss Study Method
Eight popular weight-loss diets were selected (Atkins, Protein Power, Sugar Busters, Zone, ADA Exchange, High-Fiber Fitness, Pritikin and Ornish) 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.

Weight Loss Study 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.

Weight Loss Study 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.

Source: University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky (J.W.A., E.C.K.) 2000

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