Friday, June 09, 2006

Diabetes Treatment Shocker: The Atkins Diet

With the diabetes epidemic getting worse and worse now that 73 million Americans are currently either diabetic or pre-diabetic, most people would say it is high time we start hearing some good news about the progress being made to take on this awful disease in the hopes of finding a better way to manage it and even helping diabetics become cured of it once and for all.

Now we do have some good news and it's a shocker, too -- The Atkins Diet.

Mary C. Vernon M.D., FAAFP, CMD., President of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians and co-author of "Atkins Diabetes Revolution," presents her findings today at the 66th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association taking place in Washington, D.C. from June 9-13, 2006.

While the low-carbohydrate nutritional approach has been much maligned over the past few years by members of the media and the medical establishment that has advocated the failed low-fat diet, scientific research is showing the way of eating promoted by the late Dr. Robert C. Atkins may be exactly what is needed to effectively take on this diabetes dilemma. Dr. Vernon certainly agrees with that.

"Sadly, confusion generated in the media over the past couple of years by competing business interests has misled Americans and caregivers," Dr. Vernon said. "As a result many have turned away from what is likely the most effective means to not only control diabetes with fewer medical interventions and reduced medications, but actually reverse the course of the epidemic: The Atkins Diet."

At the ADA meeting today, Dr. Vernon presents these remarkable findings of a new study out of the Durham, NC-based Duke University Medical Center which she provided background and support for as an expert in obesity and diabetes.

Lead researcher Eric C. Westman M.D., M.H.Sc., Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine Division of General Internal Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, wanted to compare two low-carb diet approaches in overweight and obese Type 2 diabetics: a low-calorie, low-glycemic index diet (LGID) and a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (LCKD).

Dr. Westman recruited volunteers from the community to participate in this outpatient, randomized, clinical trial. In order to be considered for the trial, the potential study participants had to have a glycated hemoglobin (HgbA1c) of greater than 6.0, a body mass index (BMI) from 27-50, between the ages of 18 to 65, diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes mellitus for a minimum of one year, saw the onset of diabetes after the age of 15, have no history of diabetic ketoacidosis, and have the desire and determination to lose weight. Any patient with serious or unstable medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, were not included int his study.

The average age of the study participants was 52 years old, 80 percent of them were female, and just over half (51%) were Caucasian.

Each of study participants were randomly placed in one of two groups:

1. LGID - an explicit calorie restriction diet
2. LCKD - limit carbohydrate intake to less than 20g daily

Both of these groups were placed on a multivitamin as well as a vanadyl sulfate/chromium supplement to be taken daily over the course of the study. They returned to the outpatient research clinic weekly for the first three months and then every other week thereafter.

At the end of the first three months of the study, the the mean HgbA1c for the LCKD group who saw a greater improvement when it dropped from 8.7% (1.8) to 7.1% (1.2) while the LGID group only fell from 8.0% (1.8) to 7.5% (1.7).

Additionally, weight loss in the LCKD group was 8.3 kg in the first three months while the LGID group lost 5.6 kg

Regarding diabetic medication usage rates at the conclusion of the study, Dr. Westman found that 79 percent of the LCKD group had either greatly reduced or eliminated their need for drugs to manage their diabetes compared with 66 percent of the LGID group. An algorithm was used to adjust the medication reduction while striving for euglycemia.

The study conclusion is that both low-carbohydrate lifestyle interventions led to a reduction in the need for diabetic medicine and improvements in blood sugar control. However, the larger reduction in the HgbA1c levels after three months made the LCKD the better treatment option for diabetics according to the study. The six-month study results will be presented today by Dr. Vernon.

Since medication reduction is required to avoid hypoglycemia, glucose self-monitoring and medical supervision are recommended if these approaches are used to treat diabetes mellitus, Dr. Westman noted.

Additionally, Dr. Vernon is set to present these findings from the Duke study which also found that the Atkins diet is likely the "best solution" to manage Type 2 diabetes while amazingly still maintaining compliance after six months. Also, Dr. Vernon remarked that these study participants also saw their cholesterol levels stabilize, triglyceride levels greatly reduced, and HDL "good" cholesterol go up.

An exclusive interview with Dr. Mary Vernon is forthcoming at the "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" blog where she will discuss more about this new study and what it means for people suffering with Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

You can e-mail Dr. Eric Westman about his new study at

This new study regarding the Atkins diet is the third bit of good news for the low-carb diet in just the past few weeks following a study that found there is no bone loss with low-carb diets as well as the Atkins diet being beneficial for lowering LDL "bad" cholesterol while raising HDL "good" cholesterol. Perhaps putting the final nail in the coffin of the Atkins diet was a bit premature. And there's more good news to come out of the research community in the coming months.


Blogger Will Shetterly said...

When you make posts about diabetes, it'd be helpful to say whether you're talking about type 1, type 2, or both.

6/10/2006 4:08 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for the comment, Will. But I think I made it pretty clear that the study was referring to people with Type 2 diabetes. :)

6/10/2006 5:22 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey Jen,

THANKS for your response. But if you think 20g carbs daily is "low," then you need to check out Rob at Zero Carb Path. That's right -- ZERO CARBS!!!

6/11/2006 3:53 PM  
Blogger Science4u1959 said...

No energy or brain function on low-carbs? How about the Inuit, or the Masai, on a virtually zero-carb diet? These people literally trived on these diets and were in exceptional physical and mental condition. Do some research in Paleo-style diets, and you'll be amazed how extremely healthy VLCD or even virtually zero carb diets really are.

6/12/2006 1:36 PM  
Blogger Albert said...

This diet mostly recommends you to use raw, unprocessed foods. So, if you see the Atkins diet pyramid, the center of it contains fresh vegetables and fresh meats together with natural cheeses, selected fruits and unprocessed grains. No packaged meats, canned vegetables or instant goods.


2/03/2009 10:06 AM  

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