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Is one diet better than another?
A new study compares three diets, but critics can't agree on what it means.
W

hat happened
Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets may be effective alternatives to low-fat diets, according to a new Israeli study. (New England Journal of Medicine)

What the commentators said
Finally, a study that "offers long-awaited answers" in the "diet wars," said John McKenzie on ABC News. The low-carb dieters lost the most weight—12.1 pounds on average—and "even after two years of dining on meat and cheeses and eggs," they "did not have increased cholesterol levels."

Unfortunately, "this study is extremely flawed," said Dr. Dean Ornish in Newsweek. First of all, it was partially funded by the Atkins Foundation. Secondly, its definitions of diets are peculiar: The low-fat diet dropped fat intake from 31.4 percent to only 30.0 percent, and the Atkins diet made the unusual recommendation of "vegetarian sources of fat and protein." Whoever heard of a vegetarian Atkins diet?

This study only proves that "diets mostly fail," said Tara Parker-Pope in her New York Times blog Well. The dieters lost six to 10 pounds on average after two years—two years! Conclusion: "Dieters can put forth tremendous effort and reap very little benefit."

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