Advertising Passed Off As Research, Confuses the Public Again

Updated September 26, 2013

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. The full study can be read here: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/reprint/359/3/229.pdf

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 Hot Topics on Obesity .

John McDougall, MD