Health Watch -- A thinner New Year? (part 2)

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Did you resolve to lose weight this year? Listen to this before you choose a diet.

The biggest diet trend in recent years has been the "low-carb" craze. Popular diets like the Atkins diet, the Zone and the South Beach diet all call for reduction or elimination of carbohydrates from the diet. Fans of these diets say they make it easy to lose weight without feeling hungry. Some members of the medical community aren't convinced that these diets are beneficial.

A nutrition advocacy group called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recently discussed their concerns regarding the popular Atkins diet, which allows dieters to eat all the protein and fat they want, as long as they avoid breads, starches, fruit and many vegetables. This group brought forward patients who believe their heart problems stem from this diet and has announced plans to track diet-related problems. This group is known for promoting a vegetarian diet that is the opposite of the Atkins diet.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found potential problems in high-protein diets. Dr. Chia-Ying Wang and her colleagues have found that a high-protein diet may raise the risk for kidney stones. Excessive protein in the diet may also leach calcium from bones, raising the risk for osteoporosis.

What's the bottom line? Before you try a diet that radically changes your eating habits, talk to your doctor, especially if you have a history of heart or kidney problems, diabetes or high blood pressure.