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Diet and fat loss: A comparison of the Atkins and DASH diets.

1 August 2003


Background Weight loss diets vary in the nutrient composition and procedures and may lead to differences in the amount of weight lost by patients. A particular diet may be more efficacious for individuals with different characteristics. The Atkins Diet (a low carbohydrate with high protein and high fat diet) and the DASH Diet (a diet rich in vegetables and fruits that is low in fat diet) are two contrasting types of diets that- people report using for weight reduction. The hypothesis of this study is that the Atkins Diet participants lose more weight.

Methods We compared the predicted versus the actual weight loss from feeding two popular diets. the Atkins Diet and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet to healthy, obese patients. We randomly assigned 25 obese subjects with a mean body mass index o f35 to either the Atkins' diet or the DASH diet. The diets were provided to the participants from the Oregon Health & Science University General Clinical Research Center Bionutrition Unit. The participants were asked to consume no foods from other sources. Predicted weight loss was calculated for each individual based on the estimated caloric deficit.

Results We measured the weight loss after six weeks of each diet and compared the groups. We also correlated this with participant characteristics including Body Mass Index (BMI). The Atkins' Diet patients lost more weight, but at six weeks the difference was not significant. (Mean 4.7 kg lost by DD, mean 6.0 lost kg in Atkins) (P value 0.095). The predicted weight loss of the different groups was not correlated with predicted weight loss. (t test=0.14) The initial BMI was correlated with weight loss; BMI's >32.5 t Ratio 2.05.

Conclusions The diets do cause short term weight loss. The Atkins diet did cause more weight loss but it was not significantly different from the DASH. The predicted weight loss was not accurate when compared to the actual weight loss due to the inaccuracies of the calculation of the estimated caloric need. The long-term risks and benefits of the diets are yet to be determined. The area further research should be focused on is long term weight maintenance. This protocol could be used in that future study with its results being reliable.


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