It’s Not The Obesity, It’s The Insulin, Study Finds

Filed under: Study — @ May 17, 2007

When I was in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this month for the American Society of Bariatric Physicians obesity conference, there was a presentation made by researcher Dr. Jeff Volek from the University of Connecticut who said we’ve had it all wrong for years about dealing with obesity.

He said we have long been focused on obesity itself as a problem rather than a symptom which is why the high-carb, low-fat diet has failed to put a dent in the rising rates of people who are overweight and obese. Instead, Dr. Volek said the primary focus should be on dealing with hyperinsulinemia (excessive production of insulin) to treat obesity and the resulting illnesses that come from that.

Dr. Volek made a brilliant point and now a brand new study basically confirms that thesis exactly.

Lead researcher Dr. Cara B. Ebbeling, assistant professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and the co-director of obesity research at the Boston, MA-based Children’s Hospital, and her research team observed 73 obese adults between the ages of 18-35 for a six-month intervention period followed by one year of follow-up.

The purpose of the study was to look at insulin production in the study participants and how dietary changes would impact it. The researchers basically wanted to know why a low-fat diet works for some, but doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.

The study participants were split in half and put on one of two protein-neutral diets with varying fat/protein/carbohydrate ratios:

HIGH-CARB/LOW-FAT DIET–20/25/55
LOWER-CARB/MODERATE-FAT DIET-35/25/40

So, what were the results?

The overall weight loss between the two groups was identical, but the study participants with “above-average insulin levels” actually LOST FIVE TIMES MORE WEIGHT on the LOWER-CARB/MODERATE-FAT DIET after 18 months (12.8 pounds) compared with the HIGH-CARB/LOW-FAT DIET (2.6).

There were other health improvements in the study participants as well and the conclusion of the researchers was that people who struggle to lose weight on a traditional low-fat diet may want to start the low-carb lifestyle to better manage their weight and health.

Well, HALLELUJAH! I’ve been touting that message for years!!!

Learn more about the details of this study as well as what I think it means (or should mean) as it relates to future dietary recommendations by clicking here.

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