Is This Pro-Atkins Article Too Good To Be True?

From the Palm Beach Daily News:

Johns Hopkins researchers have made the proponents of the always controversial Atkins diet very happy.

A recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s March meeting lauded low-carb diets such as Atkins for producing weight loss and belly fat loss — linked to heart disease — more efficiently than low-fat diets.

It goes on:

And in case this point was lost to those critics of Atkins, a press release from Johns Hopkins said, “These results show that weight loss, along with exercise, is important for improving vascular health, and suggest that following a low-carb diet rather than the conventionally recommended low-fat diet for weight loss is not a concern in terms of vascular health.”

If I were a shareholder in Atkins Nutritionals, which I’m not, I might be tempted to say, “so there” to all those naysayers.

But I’ll let Atkins staff do that.

“The findings from the Johns Hopkins study demonstrate what we already know to be true: Atkins has many scientifically validated health benefits, including improvements in cardiovascular health markers,” said Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education for Atkins Nutritionals Inc., in a press release Atkins quickly put out.

I, of course, believe this. But I also like my facts to be untainted by bias, and like my journalism to be untainted by it. It appears not to be the case, however:

A few years back, I met Veronica Atkins Mersentes, widow of diet originator Robert Atkins. She had an apartment on Flagler Drive, next door to the Palm Beach Yacht Club, and presented me with a copy of her cookbook, Atkins for Life.

Now, having Veronica Atkins give you a book doesn’t mean you have been bribed, but paranoid me wanted to see if I could source this article elsewhere. A Google search yielded a lot of results, but they all led back to this single article. A lot of them on low carb sites, a lot of them self-congratulatory.

Jimmy Moore cites it. I found it other places, but, curiously, not on the actual John Hopkins website. There’s a lot there on ketogenic diets and epilepsy, but nothing about this study.

I checked the Atkins site to be sure it was a real press release from them. Yep, it was. You only do a press release when it favors your position, though lying in one would be the height of stupidity.

I searched on the name of the doctor who presented the paper and finally found it:


Release Date: 03/13/2012

Overweight people who shed pounds, especially belly fat, can improve the function of their blood vessels no matter whether they are on a low-carb or a low-fat diet, according to a study being presented by Johns Hopkins researchers at an American Heart Association scientific meeting in San Diego on March 13 that is focused on cardiovascular disease prevention.

In the six-month weight-loss study, Hopkins researchers found that the more belly fat the participants lost, the better their arteries were able to expand when needed, allowing more blood to flow more freely. The researchers also found that participants in the study who were on a low-carb diet lost about ten pounds more, on average, than those who were on a low-fat diet. Being overweight increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially if the fat is accumulated in the belly above the waist.

“After six months, those who were on the low-carb diet lost an average of 28.9 pounds versus 18.7 pounds among those on the low-fat diet,” says lead investigator Kerry J. Stewart, Ed.D., a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at the Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute.

It continues – and is worth the read. Nice to find the original story so I can judge it on its own worth rather than have it filtered for me. I wish the author had included a link.

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