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Low-carb benefits for diabetes

A new study's insistence that low-carbohydrate diets are a 'real option adds to the diabetes controversy

A new study has fuelled the debate over dietary advice in diabetes after finding long-term benefits for a low-carbodydrate regime.

Patients with diabetes who took a diet low in carbohydrate enjoyed sustained weight loss with no ill-effects on health, the researchers found.

Their study, to be presented at the International Diabetes Federation conference in Cape Town later this month, found patients on a low carbohydrate diet lost 6.9kg over three months, compared with 2.1kg for those on a healthy living plan.

Study author Professor David Matthews, chair of the Oxford centre for diabetes endocrinology and metabolism, said the findings suggested low-carbohydrate diets were a 'real option' – and threw into doubt the supposed benefits of high-carbohydrate, low-fat regimes.

'We proved a low-carbohydrate diet is not deleterious as some people thought it might be,' he said, explaining that weight loss had been sustained, but lost significance because of switching among controls.

The study found no significant effect on glycaemia or lipid levels.

Dr Roger Gadsby, a GP in Nuneaton and treasurer of the Primary Care Diabetes Society, said the use of low-carbohydrate diets in diabetes was still controversial. He said: 'There have been many different dietary suggestions for diabetes and no clarity for which is best.'

He added: 'Anything that helps patients with diabetes to improve is very welcome. The more different ways of eating healthily there are the easier it will be for them.'

Dr David Wilcock, a GP in Salford, Greater Manchester, said that the diet seemed 'very sensible', and that he hoped the research would lead to more GPs recommending low-carbohydrate diets to their patients. 'This is something I have been trying to make inroads into for a couple of years with my patients, but long-term habits can reinforce themselves very easily.'

pulse@cmpmedica.com

• For recent research on diabetes diets, go to searchmedica.co.uk

Low-carb debate

PROS

• Avoids blood sugar swings • Often also good protein source

• Higher fat diets blunt appetite

CONS

• Correlation between animal protein and heart disease, diabetes and cancer

• Benefits for GI diet – but this is different

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