Australian scientists design next Atkin's diet

By Anita Awbi

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Another day another diet. But while the latest weight-loss bible to
be published in the UK has, unusually, been created by a
well-respected research institute, it is already attracting

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), based in Australia, is said to be one of the first research institutes to put its name to a diet plan. Together with Penguin Australia, they published the 'Total Wellbeing' diet, which saw British release last month.

It is set to generate yet another dieting craze as overweight Britons are increasingly warned of their need to lose weight yet know the difficulty of sticking to the low-carb, high-protein Atkin's diet.

Like the Atkin's diet, the 'Total Wellbeing' plan is based on increasing protein intake and reducing carbohydrates, although not to quite the same extent. It recommends at least four servings of red meat per week - but controlled portions of carbohydrates and fresh fruit and vegetables are also permitted.

The CSIRO nutritionists claim the diet is a "scientifically tested and nutritionally balanced plan​" aiding weight-loss by restricting glucose and therefore reducing hunger.

But research into 'Total Wellbeing' was part-funded by the Meat and Livestock Australia and Dairy Australia organizations, and critics claim this has influenced CSIRO recommendations.

Despite this, the book explaining the diet is topping the Australian bestseller lists, beating Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code to the top spot.

It is based on eight years of CSIRO research into heart disease and the results of two specific 12-week diets involving 120 obese women. Half were placed on a high-protein low-fat diet and the remaining a high-carb low-fat diet.

The results indicate that women with high triglycerides lost 25 per cent more on the high-protein diet than on the high-carb diet. Much of this extra weight was lost in the abdominal area, indicating improved metabolic health.

Nutritionist Toni Steer, from the Medical Research Council's human nutrition unit in Cambridge, UK, stressed that the "evidence base is highly lacking at the moment​."

"But others in Europe are looking at manipulating people's protein intakes to make them feel fuller, so the Total Wellbeing Diet is not alone in that respect​," she added.

Australian critics argue that the diet openly supports the meat and dairy industries and may not be healthy. Protein and fats derived from a variety of sources, including plant-based alternatives, are not encouraged. Australian Science magazine claims that the diet-plan displays "extreme nutritional reductionism."

But Steer said: "It doesn't strike me as a diet particularly recommending any types of food groups​."

Whether the diet will catch on in Britain remains to be seen, but popularity will be closely monitored as the country is seen as an entry-point for diets hitting the European market.

England's annual health survey has recorded dramatic increases in obesity from 13.2 per cent to 22.2 per cent in men and 16.4 per cent to 23 per cent in women in just 10 years up to 2003.

However there are many ingredients contained in the Australian plan that may not be widely available in Europe, including exotic fish and unusual breads, which could hinder its popularity outside Australia.

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