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Low-carb diets work for overweight people with diabetes


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Low-carb diets work for overweight people with diabetes spacer.gif By Joene Hendry

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Overweight people with type 2 diabetes can keep their weight and blood sugar under control over the long term by following a low-carbohydrate diet, Swedish researchers report.

"It is indeed possible to have a lasting success in the treatment of some of these patients," Dr. Jorgen Vesti Nielsen told Reuters Health.

The participants in the study limited their carbohydrate intake to 20 percent of total calories. The most significant effect of this low-carb diet is the absence of hunger, Nielsen added.

The consequent reduction in food intake allows the body to use its own stores of fat for fuel, which results in weight reduction, explained Nielsen, from the Blekingesjukhuset diabetes clinic, in Karlshamn, Sweden.

Moreover, avoiding starch-rich bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and breakfast cereals, and limiting carbohydrate intake to 80 to 90 grams a day primarily from vegetables, salad, and crisp bread, also minimizes the glucose spikes that make it necessary for people with diabetes to take insulin, Nielsen said.

Nielsen and colleagues had previously reported superior weight loss and glucose control over a 22-month period among 16 obese patients with diabetes who followed a low-carbohydrate diet compared with 15 similar patients following a diet containing 55 to 60 percent of energy from carbohydrates.

In their current study, in the BioMed Central journal Nutrition and Metabolism, Nielsen's group reports 44 months of follow up data.

"Of the 16 patients, five have retained or reduced bodyweight since the 22 month point and all but one have lower weight at 44 months than at start," the investigators report. Furthermore, glucose levels dropped soon after starting the diet and have stayed down over the 44 month period.

"Advice to obese patients with type 2 diabetes to follow a 20% carbohydrate diet with some caloric restriction has a lasting effect on bodyweight and glycemic control," the investigators conclude.

SOURCE: Nutrition and Metabolism, May 2008

© 2008 Reuters Health.

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