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EarthSave promotes a shift toward a healthy plant-based diet.
Vol 19 No. 4
August 2008

Advertising Passed Off As Research Confuses the Public Again

By John McDougall, MD

A study, published in the July 17, 2008 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, has generated headlines that may lead the casual reader to believe that a low-carbohydrate (animal-food based) diet is the healthy, effective way to lose weight and a low-fat, plant-food based diet, like the McDougall diet, is not. The diet they called “low fat” was the American Heart Association Diet - a diet of 30% fat with 300 mg of cholesterol daily. The diet I recommend is 7% fat with no cholesterol.

The Dr. Robert C. and Veronica Atkins Research Foundation funded the study.

This is another case of purposeful deception, publicized widely in order to confuse the public—keeping the status quo. There will be an economic windfall for a variety of industries with an increase in sales of meats, dairy products, cholesterol-lowering statins, and angioplasties. Consumers will pay with worse health, rising medical bills, higher food costs, and an increase in environmental pollution.

This was a 2-year trial of 322 moderately obese (about 200 pounds or 91 Kg), mostly men, randomly assigned to follow a low-fat, restricted-calorie; a Mediterranean, restricted-calorie; or a low-carbohydrate, non–restricted-calorie regime. The mean weight losses were 7.26, 10.12, and 12.1 pounds (3.3 Kg, 4.6 Kg, and 5.5 Kg), respectively. There was little change in cholesterol levels (LDL-cholesterol changes were -0.5, -5.6, and -3 mg/dL, respectively).

At our live-in program the average weight loss for moderately overweight people in 7 days is 4.5 pounds (2 Kg)—while eating without limit from a delicious buffet of foods. And the average reduction in total cholesterol is 25 mg/dL.

People looking for more information on the right way to lose weight should read my “Hot Topics,” the obesity section.