June 23, 2006

Low-carb diet benefits obese type 2 diabetics

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In motivated people who are
overweight and have type 2 diabetes, a low-carbohydrate diet
with some caloric restriction has lasting benefits on body
weight and blood sugar control, Swedish researchers report.

Dr. Jorgen Vesti Nielsen and Dr. Eva A. Joensson from
Blekingesjukhuset, Karlshamn, previously reported that 16 obese
patients with type 2 diabetes who followed a low carbohydrate
diet achieved significantly better diabetes control and body
weight over 6 months than did 15 patients who followed their
usual diet.

Follow-up data at 22 months for the low-carbohydrate group
now show "stable improvement" of body weight and glucose
control, the investigators report in the journal Nutrition and
Metabolism. (The publication is open access, available
subscription-free at www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/home).

At the start of the study, the average body weight of the
participants was 100.6 kg in the low-carbohydrate group. At 6
months, they were down to 89.2 kg, and by 22 months they were
at 92.0 kg.

Moreover, hemoglobin A1c, an indicator of ongoing blood
glucose control, dropped from 8.0 percent in the
low-carbohydrate group to 7.0 percent after a year, and at 22
months it was still down, at 6.9 percent.

The low-carbohydrate and high-carbohydrate diet contained
about the same amount of calories (1800 kcal for men and 1600
kcal for women), but the proportions of carbohydrates, protein,
and fat were different: 20 percent, 30 percent, and 50 percent,
respectively, for the low-carb diet versus 55-60 percent, 15
percent, and 25-30 percent, respectively, for the higher-carb
control diet.

In comments to Reuters Health, Nielsen said: "There is no
such thing as one diet that all patients should adapt to. Some
prefer to eat as they are used to and treat the blood glucose
with medications. Others are willing to make quite substantial
changes in their lives in order to get healthier (and in some
cases to get cured of their diabetes)."

When it comes to diet and diabetes, Nielsen acknowledges
that "we know very little and patients should be informed about
our lack of knowledge so they can make their own choices. And
then they should get our full support in whatever they chose."

SOURCE: Nutrition and Metabolism 2006.