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Low-fat and low-carb diets equally effective for weight loss, study finds

Any effort to control eating can result in weight loss despite claims by brand name diet programs that promote either low-fat or low-carbohydrate diets as the most effective method for eliminating that spare tire. This is the conclusion of a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). An analysis of 48 randomized trials including 7,286 dieters reveled that those on a low-carbohydrate diet lost an average of 19.2 pounds after six months; those sticking to low-fat diets lost an average of 18.6 pounds over the same time period, a statically insignificant difference.

Study finds that low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets are equally effective for weight loss.
Study finds that low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets are equally effective for weight loss.Pixabay (CC0)

Among the low-carb and low-fat diets included in the study, there was little difference between individual diet plans. This study comes a day after the Annals of Internal Medicine published their findings that a low-carbohydrate diet is more effective than a low-fat diet for weight loss. These conflicting results seem to highlight the difficulty in finding a one-size-fits-all diet plan to address the obesity epidemic in the country.

Authors of the JAMA study, “Comparison of Weight Loss Among Named Diet Programs in Overweight and Obese Adults,” believe their findings are important because strictly adhering to one type of diet is difficult for many patients. Diets that restrict foods with cultural associations may fail. Clinicians and the public should recognize that the best approach is to select a diet plan that best fits the individual’s lifestyle and preferences. The authors suggest dieters could try occasionally switching diet plans to add variety.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, low- or non-fat dairy products and lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and beans as part of a healthy weight-reduction program. High calorie foods should be consumed in moderation, and any diet plan should include physical activity for sustained weight loss. To lose one pound a week, an individual must burn 500 calories more than he or she consumes each day.