Public Health Article

Effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets for long-term weight loss in obese individuals: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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Citation: Silverii GA, Cosentino C, Santagiuliana F, Rotella F, Benvenuti F, Mannucci E, et al. (2022). Effectiveness of low-carbohydrate diets for long-term weight loss in obese individuals: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism, 24(8), 1458-1468.

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AIM: To assess whether low-carbohydrate (LC) diets are associated with differences in weight loss and well-being in people with obesity, and their cardiovascular and renal safety.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials longer than 3 months, retrieved through an extensive search on MedLine and Embase databases, comparing weight loss with LC and control diets in people with body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2 , was conducted.

RESULTS: We retrieved 25 trials. Compared with controls, LC diets were associated with significant reduction of body weight at 3-4 (MD -2.59 [-3.93, -1.25] kg) and 6-8 months (MD -2.64 [-4.32, -0.95]), but no difference at 10-14 and 18-30 months, and significantly greater BMI reduction at 3-4 months (-1.66 [-2.70, -0.61] kg/m2 ), but not at other time points. Because only four trials reported data on renal function and psychological variables, renal safety and impact on well-being could not be assessed. Differences in fasting plasma glucose at any time point were not statistically significant. No significant differences in total or LDL cholesterol or blood pressure were found in the long term, whereas a long-term reduction of triglycerides (23.26 [-45.53, -0.98] mg/dl at 18-30 months), and increase of HDL cholesterol (MD 4.94 [0.30, 9.57] mg/dl at 18-30 months), were observed.

CONCLUSION: LC diets are associated with greater short-term weight loss than non-carbohydrate-restricted diets and a longer term favourable effect on cardiovascular risk factors. Further evidence on long-term efficacy and renal safety is needed before LC diets can be recommended as the preferred diets in obese people.


Adults (20-59 years), Behaviour Modification (e.g., provision of item/tool, incentives, goal setting), Chronic Diseases, Home, Meta-analysis, Nutrition, Obesity, Seniors (60+ years)

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