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Scientific Review of Atkins Center Patient Records
Confirm Atkins' Low-Carb Nutritional Theories


Effect on serum lipids may represent breakthrough research, pointing to new horizons in cholesterol control.

(03-24-2000: NEW YORK:)   Preliminary results from the Experimental Study of the Efficacy and Safety of the Atkins Diet on Weight Loss and Other Metabolic Functions were recently released in New York City by The Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine. Using multiple selection criteria, including a Body Mass Index of greater than 23 for males and greater than 22 for females, indicating overweight or obesity, and dietary treatment for at least one year, 319 patients were retrospectively selected from existing clinic files. Patients also had to be relatively healthy and not have some serious pathology like cancer or AIDS. Data from these files on weight, blood pressure, triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, cholesterol/HDL ratio, glucose and kidney and liver function were examined.

Weight changes over the course of treatment for all 319 patients show a steady reduction for an average total of 17 lbs. While modest, this reduction indicates that the protocol has a substantial and robust effect, since it shows up regardless of degree of compliance to the diet. In other words, this yearlong retrospective study established that even when patients who follow the diet minimally, or hardly at all, are grouped together with those who comply well, the dietary effect still shows up consistently over the course of treatment.

But perhaps the most exciting result is that out of the 319 patients there was no overall increase in cardiovascular risk factors. In fact, over the course of the year, blood pressure dropped, trigylcerides dropped, HDL rose, and the cholesterol/HDL ratio improved.

"Everyone admits that you lose weight on the Atkins Diet," explained Colette Heimowitz M.Sc., Director of Nutrition for The Atkins Center, "but we’re consistently observing dramatic improvement in cardiovascular risk factors. Most importantly, the findings in the Atkins’ retrospective analysis showed dramatic increases in HDL, the good cholesterol. That’s remarkable, and could represent a breakthrough in cholesterol treatment. No one has been able to get HDL to increase on any of the low-fat diets, on the American Heart Association Diet, or on the government-based food pyramid diet.

"We also looked closely at all of the concerns about the Atkins Diet voiced by the American Dietetic Association and other organizations and individuals: concerns about renal function, liver function, concerns about excess protein, kidney stones, etc. These are the points that the skeptics keep pounding on with regard to long-term safety.

"Now we have documentation for 319 patients studied over an average span of about one year showing that changes in kidney and renal function tests, creatinine, BUN, BUN/creatinine ratios, AST, ALT, and total bilirubin were very small, and mostly in the desirable direction. If the diet has serious consequences for liver and kidney function, they might be expected to show up well within a year time span. Such was clearly not the case. In short, however you look at the data from the study, there is every indication that the diet not only confers health benefits but does so safely."

Currently, the Atkins Center is supporting and cooperating with a number of independent research centers around the country to develop and implement a series of long-term studies designed observe the effect of the diet on other medical populations other than mild to moderate obesity including hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), sleep apnea and morbid obesity. Research is also planned to explain the mechanism of the diet as it pertains to weight loss, lipid effects and insulin sensitivity.