Quality of Low-Carb Diets Affects Weight Change in U.S. Adults

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

Weight gain seen in association with animal and unhealthy low-carb diets; weight loss linked to vegetable, healthy low-carb diets

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 27, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The quality of low-carbohydrate diets (LCDs) is associated with weight change among U.S. adults, according to a study published online Dec. 27 in JAMA Network Open.

Binkai Liu, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study to examine associations between changes in LCD indices and weight change among healthy participants at baseline from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS; 1986 to 2010), Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII; 1991 to 2015), and Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS; 1986 to 2018). Five LCD indices were examined: total LCD (TLCD); animal-based LCD (ALCD); vegetable-based LCD (VLCD); a healthy LCD (HCLD); and an unhealthy LCD (ULCD). Data were included for 123,332 participants (83.8 percent female).

The researchers found that during four-year intervals, the mean weight gain varied from 0.8 to 1.8 kg in the HPFS and NHSII, respectively. Each 1-standard deviation (SD) increase in TLCD score was associated with 0.06 kg more weight gain over the four-year periods after adjusting for demographics and baseline and concomitant changes of selected lifestyle factors. For each 1-SD increase in ALCD and ULCD score, the corresponding increases were 0.13 and 0.39 kg. In contrast, each 1-SD increase in VLCD and HCLD scores was associated with 0.03 and 0.36 kg less weight gain, respectively. Among obese individuals, these associations were more pronounced.

“Overall, the study findings argue against the sole focus of macronutrient quantity for weight management and suggest the crucial role of nutrient quality in maintaining a healthy body weight,” the authors write.

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