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19 October 2001 News Update


High-protein, low carbohydrate diet have no proven effectiveness in long-term weight loss, and pose potential health threats to those who follow them, especially for extended periods of time.

A report based on the latest scientific research from the American Heart Association, says such popular quick weight loss regimes as the Atkins, Zone, Protein Power and Sugar Busters diets are unhealthy and can have damaging long-term effects, and increase the risk of heart diseases and diabetes.

The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand supports these findings. Medical Director Dr Diana North says the foundation doesn't recommend high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss because these diets don't provide the variety of foods needed to adequately meet nutritional needs.

She says people who remain on these diets for long periods of time may unwittingly put themselves at risk.

While accepting that New Zealanders are getting bigger - more than half the adult population is now either overweight or obese - she said the barrage of fad diets provides false information on effective, healthy weight loss options.

These diets usually help achieve short-term weight loss, but can lead to a false sense of accomplishment as the weight loss is likely to be a loss of water weight, or lean muscle tissue, rather than fat.

Although proteins are essential nutrients, foods emphasised in high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are mainly from animal sources that are not only high in protein, but also high in saturated far, which can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

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