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Fresh controversy over dietary advice

Diets high in fat and low in carbohydrates do not increase women's risk of coronary heart disease and may reduce it, a

major new study concludes.

The research will further

fuel the debate over the most appropriate diet for patients with diabetes, after also finding high-carbohydrate diets doubled women's CHD risk.

Pulse's clinical columnist Dr Malcolm Kendrick ignited the debate in September after writing: 'I do not believe fat consumption has the slightest impact on CHD in people with or without diabetes.'

The new analysis of 82,202 women, published in last week's New England Journal of Medicine, appears to support his argument. It found high vegetable fat diets seemed to be protective.

Dr Thomas Halton, a study author from the Harvard University School of Public Health, said he hoped it would lead to policy changes.

'This study is certainly eye-opening and I think it's time to review what we are telling people to eat. The glycaemic load may deserve a lot more attention,' he said.

Dr Kendrick, a GP in Macclesfield, said: 'Here is yet another study which has failed to demonstrate any connection between dietary fat intake and CHD. A diet high in carbohydrates almost doubles the risk – and this is the diet we currently recommend to diabetics.'

But Dr Peter Donnan, senior lecturer at the Tayside centre for general practice, who has researched CHD risk in diabetes, said Dr Kendrick was merely playing 'devil's advocate' and that his 'was not a commonly held opinion'.

• Diabetes diet dilemmas, page 52

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