FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
September 2, 2014
CC by: Neeta Lind

Take a bow, Dr. Atkins. A major new U.S. study suggests that Robert Atkins was on to something when he started promoting his low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet in the 1970s. The randomized study, primarily financed by the U.S. Institute of Health and published Tuesday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found that low-carb dieters lost more body fat and lowered their risk of heart disease significantly more than people on a low-fat, high-carb diet.

The researchers, led by Tulane University's Dr. Lydia Bazzano, split 148 racially diverse participants into two groups. One group was instructed to eat mostly protein and fat, including red meat and dairy but with an emphasis on nuts, fish, olive oil, and other foods high in unsaturated fats. The other group reduced their fat intake, per federal dietary recommendations, and ate lots of grains, starches, and cereals. Both groups were encouraged to eat lots of vegetables, and neither was told to restrict their calories or increase their physical activity.

A year later, the low-carb group had lost more weight that the low-fat group — 8 pounds more on average — and lowered their risk of cardiovascular diseases, as measured by their Framingham risk scores (the chance you'll have a heart attack within 10 years). The low-fat group saw no drop in their cardiovascular risk scores. And not only did the low-carb group lose a lot more body fat, but the low-fat group appeared to lose more muscle than fat.

You can read more about the findings at The New York Times. But enjoy that guilt-free bacon cheeseburger wrapped in lettuce while you can. Science will probably tell us something different soon enough. Peter Weber

8:36 a.m. ET

Animal behavior specialists are bewildered by an incident at the Zoological Garden of Rabat, in Morocco, in which a female elephant picked up a stone and threw it at the crowd, striking and killing a 7-year-old girl.

"The behavior … of any animal is very complex and wild animals are unpredictable," said Abderahim Salhi, the zoo's veterinarian. "We are all surprised. We don't yet understand."

The elephant threw the stone, which was about half the size of a brick, more than 33 feet, over a ditch and a wooden barrier; it struck the girl in the head. "In my opinion, it's unlikely the elephant was directly targeting the girl but exhibiting frustration," Phyllis Lee, the scientific director of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, told the BBC.

The Rabat zoo defended its enclosure, which it said met the international standards, and called the incident "rare, unpredictable, and strange."

"We are very sad at what happened, but it would be wrong to blame the elephant. This was not premeditated," Salma Slimani, in charge of zoo administration, told The Associated Press. Jeva Lange

8:10 a.m. ET

Clinton's historic nomination on Thursday night was somewhat bittersweet, as one can't help but wish that the thousands of women who fought to get America to this moment could have seen her on that stage. Luckily, Stephen Colbert owns a time machine and he used it to beam in Josephine Henley and Abitha Whitmore from the night of July 4, 1776.

Never mind the uncanny resemblance the female delegates have to Broad City's Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer — Henley and Whitmore are pretty excited to hear the good news about Hillary Clinton. Well, that is until they realize they misheard Colbert say the date by 200 years.

The two have a pretty big scolding for America taking its sweet time to nominate a woman, and you can get a hilarious earful, below. Jeva Lange

8:06 a.m. ET

One San Diego police officer was killed and another injured when a gunman opened fire on them late Thursday night. After the shooting, authorities urged people in the surrounding area to stay inside as police helicopters searched for a suspect. Police said they had one person in custody, although they did not immediately identify the suspect. Investigators also did not say what could have been the gunman's motive.

The city and others around the country have been on high alert since gunmen ambushed and killed police in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Harold Maass

7:40 a.m. ET

Photos of Hillary Clinton gazing out across the Democratic convention or noticing with childlike glee the fireworks at the end of her speech will be saved in the files of American history for many, many a decade to come as she became the first female presidential nominee selected by a major party since the founding of the nation. Naturally, it was important for her to look great:

But for women, the choice of what to wear has always been a political act, something that Clinton did not forget. Her white pantsuit — possibly selected with the help of Vogue editor Anna Wintour — was the perfect choice for the historic moment:

[The outfit] carried the symbolic weight of more than a century of American feminist history.

Women in the suffrage movement, which fought for decades to secure a woman's right to vote around the turn of the 20th century, were often encouraged to wear white during parades and demonstrations. Historians believe it likely represented purity and the movement's elevated ideals. [Quartz]

Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first woman to accept the vice presidential nomination of a major party, also wore white during her acceptance speech in 1984 as a conscious nod to the suffragettes. Jeva Lange

5:42 a.m. ET
JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday, Pope Francis visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration camp where more than one million people died during the Holocaust. During his visit, Francis met with elderly survivors of the camp and placed a candle at the Death Wall, where prisoners were executed. He spent much of his time sitting in silence beneath a tree to reflect on the tragedy and to pray. He is the third pope to visit the camp, after both his immediate predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

According to The Associated Press, Francis wrote in a guest book at Auschwitz: "Lord, have pity on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty."

The visit comes on the third day of his five-day trip through Poland. Earlier this week, Francis warned that "the world is at war" after French jihadists murdered a Catholic priest on Tuesday. "When I speak of war I speak of wars over interests, money, resources, not religion," Pope Francis said. "All religions want peace, it's the others who want war." Jessica Hullinger

2:06 a.m. ET
Rami al-Sayed/AFP/Getty Images

The Nusra Front, a branch of al Qaeda in Syria, announced Thursday it is leaving the group.

Nusra Front's leader, Mohamad al-Golani, said they will reorganize under a new name, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, "with no ties with any foreign party." He said the move is being made "to remove the excuse used by the international community — spearheaded by America and Russia — to bombard and displace Muslims in the Levant: That they are targeting the Nusra Front, which is associated with al Qaeda."

Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's successor as the leader of al Qaeda, gave the Nusra Front permission to break away, Reuters reports. When asked about the news, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said, "We're gonna have to wait and see. We judge a group by what they do, not by what they call themselves." Catherine Garcia

1:39 a.m. ET

In 2008, when Barack Obama became the first African-American presidential nominee, his opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), released an ad congratulating him on making history.

"Sen. Obama, this is truly a good day for America," McCain said. "Too often, the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed, so I wanted to stop and say congratulations. How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day. Tomorrow we'll be back at it, but tonight, Senator, job well done."

On Thursday, when Hillary Clinton became the first woman to ever become the presidential nominee of a major party, that didn't happen — but this did. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads