Study Suggests That Losing Weight, Not a Low-Fat Diet, Reduces Post-Menopausal Women’s Risk of Type 2

The scientists concluded that calories and weight, not the composition of a diet, are the primary factors in the acquisition of the disease.

Dec 29, 2008

Post-menopausal women hoping to avert type 2 diabetes stand a better chance of success if they rely on losing weight rather than on a low-fat diet, according to results of a 12-year study conducted by the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle. 

Researchers started with 48,835 diabetes-free post-menopausal women between 50 and 79 years of age and tracked the rate at which they acquired the disease over the course of the study. 

The women were divided into two groups: the control group continued with their usual diet, while the second group was put on a low-fat diet that reduced daily caloric intake from fat to 20 percent and increased consumption of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Participants understood that the diet was not offered or intended as a weight control measure.

At the end of the study, researchers found that 7.1 percent of the women on the low-fat diet had acquired diabetes, compared to 7.4 percent of the women in the control group. The difference was statistically insignificant.

The researchers also found, however, that participants among the low-fat diet group who had lost weight by decreasing their caloric intake had also reduced their risk of developing diabetes. The scientists concluded that calories and weight, not the composition of a diet, are the primary factors in the acquisition of the disease.

An abstract of the study is available at the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Diets, Low Calorie & Low Fat, Type 2 Issues, Weight Loss

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Posted by Feinman on 30 December 2008

This kind of report is extremely distressing for people who work in biomedical research. The paper by Tinker, et al., largely by sins of omission, is misleading and deceptive. The paper ”was undertaken to assess the effects of a low-fat dietary pattern” but when it found that this pattern, which continues to be recommended by almost all health agencies, was without effect it concluded that ”Weight loss, rather than macronutrient composition, may be the dominant predictor of reduced risk of diabetes.”. Of course, they did not test all macronutrients. They did not test the effect of reducing dietary carbohydrate which would seem to be the macronutrient most relevantfor a study of “the risk of diabetes mellitus in persons with impaired glucose tolerance.”? Ignoring dietary carbohydrate in persons with impaired glucose tolerance? What kind of science is this? What kind of concern for people with diabetes?

Who supports this kind of research? You do. The WHI is an extremely expensive federally-funded study. This may be the single most egregious example of, you will pardon the expression, government pork. It would be appropriate to call on your elected officials to set up a congressional hearings in which all sides of the macronutrient question are heard.

Richard Feinman
Professor of Biochemistry
SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Posted by seashore on 31 December 2008

Professor Feinman is right on target.

If they had placed the group on a low-carb diet of 60 grams of carbs per day (twice the recommendation of Dr. Bernstein, but less than half of the ADA recommendation), they would have seen a dramatic reduction of type-2 diabetes.

Posted by Anonymous on 2 January 2009

It's unfortunate that in order to know whether a research study is valid or, how to correctly intrepret the actual findings, we would all need to be research scientists. The Nutrition & Metabolism Society site ( has a lot of research that is beneficial to anyone interested in the study referenced above.The society was founded by Dr.Feinman and I've followed his work and critiques over th years and found him to be right on.
Hope this helps.
Ivan C.

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