ABC World News (2/25, story 7, 1:50, Gibson) reported, "In the battle over carbs and protein and fat, a new study basically says forget all that. Just pick a plan, any good plan, and then here's the critical part. Stick to it." NBC Nightly News (2/25, story 6, 2:55, Snyderman) added that researchers found that "regardless of diet, participants lost an average of 13 pounds in six months and maintained a nine-pound weight loss at two years."
The finding, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, "could finally end the often-contentious debate over the comparative effectiveness of diets that" are "marked by...specific configurations," such as those that "are predominantly low in fat, high in protein," or "low in carbohydrates," the Los Angeles Times (2/26, Roan) reports. And, because "the study did not prove...that every dieter succeeds," it "reinforces numerous other studies showing most people lose a modest amount of weight in the first few months of dieting and regain some or all of the weight over time."
USA Today (2/26, Hellmich) notes that in order to compare diet programs, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Louisiana State University "recruited 811 overweight or obese older adults and put them on one of four diet plans, including two low-fat diets with 20 percent of calories from fat and two high-fat plans with 40 percent of calories from fat." Each diet included between 35 percent and 65 percent of "calories from carbohydrates," as well as "15 percent or 25 percent of calories" from protein. Participants "adhered to heart-healthy guidelines" and maintained "modest" exercise goals that included "about 90 minutes of moderate physical activity a week."
"Each plan cut about 750 calories from a participant's normal diet, but no one ate fewer than 1,200 calories a day," the New York Times (2/26, A16, Parker-Pope) points out. Lead author Dr. Frank M. Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at Harvard, explained that the researchers reduced bias by not "associating any of the diets with well-known commercial eating plans." Instead, the "plans were all loosely based on the principles of popular diets like Atkins, which emphasizes low carbohydrates; Dean Ornish, which is low-fat; or the Mediterranean diet, with less animal protein." Meanwhile, participants "also received group or individual counseling."
According to the AP (2/26, Chang), "There was no winner among the different diets; reduction in weight and waist size were similar in all groups."
Canada's CTV (2/26), the UK's Telegraph (2/26, Smith), the Baltimore Sun (2/26, Brewington), CNN (2/26, Park), Time (2/25, Sharples), MedPage Today (2/25, Phend), WebMD (2/25, Doheny), and Scientific American (2/25, Ballantyne) also covered the story, as did the Boston Globe (2/25, Cooney) White Coat Notes blog.