A sorry day for medical publications.

In today’s hard copy of The New England Journal of Medicine there is a piece of research which purports to show that a calorie counting is the only way to ensure weight loss and that the macro nutrients of the diet make no difference. This conclusion is based on the comparison of various diets from  low carb through to low fat. 

For some reason the research team decided to re-define low carb and not follow the guidelines set by previous peer reviewed studies. This study chose the arbitrary definition of low carb as 35% of calorific intake being carbohydrate as compared with high carb being 65%of calories being consumed.  All other low carb diets would put the appropriate level at between 20-50grams of carbs per day which in the average diet would be no more than about 10-20%of calorific intake.

Of course by redefining the definition of low carb and choosing, for no obvious reason, to exclude proper low carb diets would ensure that the outcome of the study at summary level could be said to prove that calorie counting works. Had this study included a low carb option it is certain that they could have shown greater weight loss during the first year and longer sustainability as have all the other studies shown.  The reason I know this is that there have been numerous summary studies providing a summary of recent comparative research which consistently show a significant difference between low carb and low fat diets even when the calorie count is identical.

I guess the most disappointing aspect of this study is that it was published. It is normal for those with an interest in one particular argument to do their best to promote their preferred approach but what is naughty is that this eminent journal should have allowed a summary to describe something as low carb when clearly it was not. Yes it was lower carb but you need to reduce your carbohydrate level significantly below 35% to get the benefits of low carb dieting.  Misleading or what!

Of course when you look at who has funded the study and the support received by some of the lead researchers it comes as no surprise that they wish to show that only calories count…Just imagine how dreadful it would be for American Heart Association and indeed many other bodies here in the UK and in the US if it was shown to the satisfaction of all that calories don’t count.


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