Benefits and Limitations of Healthy Diets

Tara Parker-Pope discusses a New England Journal of Medicine study that compared a Mediterranean diet, an Atkins diet and a diet with about thirty percent fat based on American Heart Association Guidelines.

The study had obese participants, who lost (on average) only 6 to 10 pounds over two years. From the article:

The biggest weight loss happened in the first five months of the diet – low-fat and Mediterranean dieters lost about 10 pounds, and low-carbohydrate dieters lost 14 pounds.

By the end of two years, all the dieters had regained some, but not all, of the lost weight. The low-fat dieters showed a net loss of six pounds, and the Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate dieters both lost about 10 pounds.

Researchers said the results sound modest, but they said the small weight loss had resulted in improvements in cholesterol and other health markers.

The obvious lesson to take from this study is that diets are not very effective when it comes to significant weight loss, but have good consequences for health overall. A focus on weight loss may lead people to ignore other important elements of health. The whole article is worth reading, as the study has many nuances.

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