Low-carb beats low-fat in a meta-analysis of 17 clinical trials


Obesity is a growing problem across the developed world.  In the United States, it affects more than 36% of adults and, in the United Kingdom, it has been referred to as the “biggest threat to women’s health”. Obesity’s epidemic prevalence as well as its serious health consequences have led to a plethora of dietary interventions with varied efficacy.


SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health Examination Survey 1960–1962; and National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 1971–1974; 1976–1980; 1988–1994; 1999–2000, 2001–2002, 2003–2004, 2005–2006, 2007–2008, 2009–2010, and 2011–2012

In a new study published in the Journal PLOS ONE, a meta-analysis of seventeen randomized clinical trials provides insight into the relative benefits of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets in terms of weight lost, cholesterol and the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) events. The seventeen clinical trials used for meta-analysis included a total of 1,797 patients over the age of eighteen who all lacked co-morbidities other than dyslipidemia. Each trial randomly assigned patients to treatment groups and included at least eight weeks of follow-up.

For the purposes of the meta-analysis, low-carbohydrate diets had a daily intake of no more than 120 grams of carbohydrates whereas less than 30% of daily caloric intake in the low-fat diets was derived from fat.

In their conclusions the authors of the study suggest that dietary recommendations, currently favouring low-calorie, low-fat, interventions in cases of obesity, should be revisited to consider more thoroughly the benefits of low-carbohydrate diets. 

Sackner-Bernstein J, Kanter D, Kaul S (2015)
Dietary Intervention for Overweight and Obese Adults: Comparison of Low-Carb and Low-Fat Diets