The Atkins diet may increase the risk of heart disease, a recent study conducted over a period of 25 years has revealed.
The diet, officially called the Atkins Nutritional Approach, was welcomed by dieters around the globe as it encourages consumption of fatty foods while shunning sugar and starch.
Now, however, scientists have raised a red flag over the diet, warning that it could increase blood cholesterol to dangerous levels causing heart problems.
Researchers from Sweden analyzed data on the food intake, body measurements and cholesterol levels of more than 140,000 different patient records and questionnaires from 1986 to 2010.
The results found that although there was an initial decrease of fat consumption and cholesterol levels throughout the 1990s, the positive outcome was not long-term. After 2004, levels of total and saturated fat intake began to increase, and in 2010 blood cholesterol levels recorded a sharp rise.
“While low carbohydrate/high fat diets may help short-term weight loss, the results of this Swedish study demonstrate that long-term weight loss is not maintained, and that this diet increases blood cholesterol, which has a major impact on risk of cardiovascular disease,” explained Professor Ingegerd Johansson from the University of Umea who lead the study.
The analysis of the 25-year period showed that no dieting of any kind helped people lose weight, as the average body mass index (BMI), a measurement relating weight and height, showed a consistent rise in both men and women.
“Supportive opinions in media for high-fat diets seem to have had an impact on consumer behaviors,” the researchers stated in their paper. “These changes in risk factors may have important effects on primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.”
The paper was published in the Nutrition Journal.