Teens Triumph on Controlled Carbohydrate Program|
Atkins Center - A recent but significant study pokes a large hole in the idea that weight loss is simply a matter of restricting calories(1). Results of the study, conducted at Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, N.Y., were presented at a meeting of the Society for Adolescent Medicine in Washington, D.C. Marc Jacobson, M.D., reported on his findings, involving children ranging in age from 12 to 18, all of whom were between 20 and 100 pounds overweight. He found that teens following a controlled carb plan were more successful in their weight-loss efforts than those following a low-fat, high-carb plan, even though the former ate an average of 730 more calories daily.
Members of the controlled carb group were allowed to eat as many calories as they wanted in the form of meat, fish, fowl and cheese, two salads a day and minimal other carbs. The low-fat group ate fat-free dairy products, whole grains, low-fat meats, poultry and fish and many fruits and vegetables. They were limited to 1,100 calories a day. The results speak for themselves: Teens in the controlled carb group lost an average of 19 pounds during a 12-week period; low-fat dieters averaged 8.5 pounds. The controlled carb group also showed a greater decrease in overall serum cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels were reduced by 52 percent, as compared to a 10 percent drop for the low-fat group. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol levels increased in the controlled carb group and decreased in the low-fat group.
Two myths often perpetuated by critics of Atkins were also addressed in this study. Skeptics who don't actually understand the process of lipolysis/ketosis have often stated that the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM is effective only because fewer calories are consumed. As Atkins followers can attest, they can eat plenty of delicious, whole foods. In the Schneider study, the controlled carb group consumed an average of 1,830 calories a day, 66 percent more than the low-fat group's average, while losing almost 1 pound more per week. Another myth is that Atkins can damage kidneys. Schneider researchers monitored kidney and liver functions and found that they were unaffected by the controlled carb diet.
Dr. Jacobson attributes the weight loss success of the controlled carb dieters to suppressed insulin levels, resulting from carbohydrate restriction. This, in turn, stops the body from "laying down new fat," he says, forcing it to burn fat already accumulated in the body. After three months on a weight-loss plan, study participants followed a maintenance diet that included additional carbohydrates. Six to 12 months later, most of the controlled carb followers had maintained their new weight. The study provides additional evidence for the efficacy of a high-protein, controlled carb weight loss program, specifically for teenagers.
1. Sondike, S.B., Copperman, N.M., Jacobson, M.S., "Low Carbohydrate Dieting Increases Weight Loss but not Cardiovascular Risk in Obese Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Trial" Journal of Adolescent Health, 26, 2000, page 91.