High-Carbohydrate Diets Net Lower Calorie Levels
By Rosalie Marion
June 18, 2002
Agricultural Research Service scientists
have found that people whose diets are highest in carbohydrates actually eat
fewer calories per day and are less likely to be obese than people who eat
diets with higher levels of fat and protein.
The study is based on a data analysis of carbohydrate intakes from the
U.S. Department of Agricultures
Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals for the years 1994-1996. The
data is collected and managed by ARS, USDA's chief scientific research agency.
The analysis showed that persons whose diets were highest in carbohydrates
not only consumed 200 to 300 fewer calories per day, but also had diets higher
in nutrients. The study's results are contrary to some fad diets
that emphasize decreasing carbohydrate intakes while increasing protein and
In the study, scientists divided a nationwide pool of 10,014 people into
four carbohydrate-intake dietary patterns, from lowest to highest. People
eating the high- carbohydrate diet got 55 percent or more of their calories
from carbohydrates; in the lowest carbohydrate diet, people consumed 30 percent
or less of their calories from carbohydrates. People eating the
high-carbohydrate diet were also more likely to meet the federal
Guidelines for Americans recommendations for both total fat (no more
than 30 percent) and saturated fat (no more than 10 percent).
The high-carbohydrate group had to eat more food to get 1,000 calories than
those in the low-carbohydrate group because of the choices they made, according
to nutritionist and lead author Shanthy A. Bowman of ARS
Community Nutrition Research
Group, Beltsville, Md.
Those in the high-carbohydrate diet had the highest fruit and fiber intake,
and they made low-fat choices from milk, meat, poultry and fish products. They
also had the lowest average body-mass index (BMI), which indicates the
percentage of fat in the body. As a major health-risk factor, obesity has
increased considerably during the past 20 years.
The study appears in the June 2002 issue of the Journal of the American
College of Nutrition.