The Friendly Doc Next Door, who knows I’ve been following a low-carb regimen, sent along an email that he received from the American Medical Association this week. It was a news summary called AMA Morning Rounds, and the lead story was about a new study that showed that low-carb diets are better than low-fat diets for reducing the risk of heart disease.
It’s great to have a thoughtful doctor in the neighborhood — especially one who keeps his yard in tip-top shape — to keep us abreast of the latest health news. And the study mentioned in the AMA email, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, is significant. It concludes that people who follow a low-carb diet lose more weight and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diets doctors have been recommending for decades.
Whoo-hoo! I win! Of course, not really. What this new study really tells us is that there is an awful lot we don’t know — but we don’t really want to acknowledge that fact. For decades doctors were confidently telling patients that the low-fat diet was the way to go, and the patients accepted that. Now a new study says something different. What’s a dutiful patient supposed to do?
I like the low-carb approach because it’s easy to remember when mealtime comes and I like meat and cheeses, anyway. I feel like it’s working for me. But I also can see that people who don’t really like eating meat will groan if low-carb now becomes the new low-fat and is prescribed for everyone who wants to lose weight.
My guess is that there are many ways to lose weight, provided you reduce your intake and make sure you get exercise. What this latest study really tells us is that confident conclusions about health — like the decades of focus on low-fat diets — are often wrong. That is useful information to remember.