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Cutting Back on Carbohydrates
Scientists back concept of glycemic index

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NBC Nightly News (Monday, June 25, 2001) —  New research at Harvard University shows low-carb, high-protein diets help shed pounds when people cut way down on certain culprits such as potatoes, white bread, white rice and pasta. NBC’s Robert Bazell reports.

The following is a transcript of the NBC Nightly News' Report, Cutting Back on Carbohydrates, aired June 25, 2001 with Brian Williams.

Brian Williams, anchor:
Tonight's LIFELINE, new information about low-carbohydrate diets. First, though, the answer to that NIGHTLY QUESTION. Which of the following foods contains the highest level of carbohydrates?

Displayed On Screen:


Which of These Foods Contains the Most Carbohydrates?
1 oz. Licorice Candy    B  1 slice Wheat Bread    C  3 oz. Sirloin Steak

Brian Williams:
The answer is licorice with a whopping 26 grams of carbs. That could mean very bad news if you're trying to lose weight. NBC News chief science correspondent Robert Bazell:

Robert Bazell reporting:
Rachel Shore, a medical resident, tried many diets and finally settled on one: low-carb, high-protein and fat. Recent studies at her prestigious hospital, Childrens of Boston, found it was the only one that helped kids lose weight.

Ms. Rachel Shore:
I had tried others and this one worked.

Dr. David Ludwig Robert Bazell:
Low-carb diets, popular for years, huge best-sellers like "The Atkins Diet," "The Zone" and "Sugar Busters" based on unproven theories. But new science at Harvard revealing the diets do work when people cut way down on certain carbohydrates like potatoes, white bread, white rice and pasta.

Dr. David Ludwig (Children's Hospital Boston):
These highly refined, starchy foods are leading to changes in hormones and metabolism that are causing people to overeat and gain weight.

Robert Bazell:
glycemic index The scientific concept is called glycemic index, and it is the hottest topic in nutrition. It is a new way of comparing foods that is not about fat or calories. Scientists measure the amount of sugar that different foods put into the body right after they're eaten. Turns out the foods that give a big sugar boost not only increase the chances for weight gain and obesity, but also for heart disease and diabetes.

How could pasta, potatoes and rice, thought to be very healthy not long ago, cause a problem? Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health says new studies show if we eat those so-called high glycemic index foods, our blood sugar shoots way up.

Dr. Walter Willett:
And then our pancreas pumps out insulin to try to bring that blood sugar back down. And it does come down, but it may come down so fast that the blood sugar levels actually go below normal, and that makes us hungry.

Robert Bazell:
Hungry enough to eat lots more food and gain weight. Foods that are pure protein and fat, like fish and meat, have a glycemic index of zero, the best. A half grapefruit has a low number, twenty-five. A potato: 85, high. And non-fat frozen tofu: 115, off the charts. The scientists emphasize that a balanced diet is still key. Fish and lean meat, fat in the form of vegetable oil, unprocessed grains and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Rachel Shore, who lost 20 pounds, swears by the low-carb approach, as do an increasing number of scientists. Robert Bazell, NBC News, Boston.

Copyright © 2001 MSNBC/NBC Nightly News