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Study: Low-carb diet beats low-fat one

IN BRIEF

February 01, 2010

A low-carb diet may be better for lowering blood pressure than taking an over-the-counter weight loss medication and sticking to a low-fat diet.

Researchers placed participants in two groups. One set consisted of 57 people who ate a low-carbohydrate diet and were allowed to consume unlimited amounts of meat and eggs. The other set consisted of 65 people who limited their daily fat intake to 30% or less of their total calories and restricted their consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol. This group also took the drug orlistat. The study lasted for 48 weeks.

The low-carb group dropped an average of 5.9 points of systolic blood pressure (the top number that measures the heart's contractions) and 4.5 points on diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number measuring the heart at rest). The other group dropped 1.5 points on systolic and 0.4 points on diastolic. The low-carb set lost about 9.5% of body weight while the medication/low-fat diet group lost about 8.5%.

The study was published in the Jan. 25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

-- Jeannine Stein

Two hands aren't better than one

Kids who are "mixed- handed," or "cross-dominant" -- that is they do some tasks better with one hand, other tasks better with the other hand -- appear more likely to have language, learning and mental health problems, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms, at least compared with right-handed kids. That's the word from a study published Jan. 25 in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers conclude that mixed-handedness, which indicates the brain is wired a little differently than is the norm, could be used to help identify kids at risk of such problems.

But no one's suggesting that kids be forced to use one hand or the other -- the treatment some lefties once endured before the rest of society got enlightened. For now, it's just one more thing about which parents can fret.

-- Tami Dennis

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