Are Low-Fat Diets Keeping Americans Obese?

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Paleo_RF29_11.12.13_014Photographed by Liz Clayman.
It seems like common knowledge at this point: Fat is bad. And, the key to losing weight is a low-fat diet. Even the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends maintaining a diet low in fats, as well as restricting one’s caloric intake. But, in a recent post on a The Daily Beast, Dr. Daniela Drake makes the case that focusing on a low-fat diet and calorie restriction is actually keeping Americans obese.

Drake, a board-certified internist in L.A., writes about her experience with patients who could never lose weight until they went on a low-carb-high-fat (LCHF) diet, such as Atkins or Paleo. She notes that other professionals agree. Kerry Stewart, professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at Johns Hopkins, tells The Daily Beast that “while low-fat eating has increased, so have body weight and waistlines. Based on what we know now about high carbohydrate eating, the obesity epidemic was predictable.”

The AHA continues to endorse a low-fat diet, even though other countries, such as Sweden, have endorsed LCHF diets as the best way to lose weight. LCHF diets have been shown to improve blood pressure and raise good cholesterol, according to a 2009 study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Drake also takes issue with dieting through calorie restriction. Citing research from UCLA reported in American Psychologist in 2007, she notes that people who restrict their calorie intake are often unable to keep the weight off in the long run. Of course, one size does not fit all — even when it comes to diets — so there's no guarantee that eating more fats will help you shed pounds. But, as far as Drake is concerned, raising awareness about LCHF diets will give people more options when it comes to choosing an eating plan that will deliver the results they want. And, knowledge is power, right? (The Daily Beast)