For the first time, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has come out in support of low-carbohydrate diets for people with diabetes who want to manage their weight.
The ADA voiced its support of low-calorie or low-carbohydrate diets in its newly published 2008 clinical practice recommendations.
The recommendations are intended to help physicians guide their patients in diabetes prevention and management.
The ADA estimates that more than 20 million children and adults are living with diabetes in the United States. However, about one-third of those people have the disease but have not yet been diagnosed, according to the association.
Prior to the release of the 2008 recommendations, the ADA did not support low-carbohydrate diets for diabetes management due to a lack of evidence supporting their safety and effectiveness.
Whether a person can stick with a diet is more important than the diet’s theme, according to the association. Low-carbohydrate and low-calorie diets are equally effective in helping people lose weight over a year. However, the recommendations do also include guidelines for monitoring the lipid profiles and kidney health of people who choose a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet.
The recommendations continue to support sustained, moderate weight loss and increased physical activity for people who are overweight, obese, living with diabetes or at risk for becoming diabetic.
“The risks of overweight and obesity are well-known. We recognize that people are looking for realistic ways to lose weight,” Ann Albright, president of health care and education for the ADA, said in a prepared statement. “The evidence is clear that both low-carbohydrate and low-fat calorie restricted diets result in similar weight loss at one year. We’re not endorsing either of these weight-loss plans over any other method of losing weight. What we want health-care providers to know is that it’s important for patients to choose a plan that works for them, and that the health-care team support their patients’ weight-loss efforts and provide appropriate monitoring of patients’ health.”
Being overweight and physically inactive both increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to the ADA. Being overweight or obese also make the treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes more difficult. The 2008 recommendations state that all adults who are overweight and have an additional risk factor for diabetes should be tested for diabetes or pre-diabetes.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have pre-diabetes can avoid diabetes if they lose 7 percent of their body weight and get more than 150 minutes of activity a week.
Developing and maintaining a disaster kit for diabetes self-management is also included in the new recommendations, along with revised guidelines for care of diabetes in older adults.