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High-Protein Diet Could Backfire in Heart Health

Weight gain, early death noted in study of older adults

FRIDAY, May 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- A high-protein diet may backfire for people at risk for cardiovascular disease -- increasing the likelihood of weight gain and early mortality, new research suggests. The study results were scheduled for presentation Friday at the European Congress on Obesity, held from May 6 to 9 in Prague.

The researchers analyzed data from a government-funded trial of more than 7,000 men and women. Participants, all aged 55 and over without cardiovascular disease, filled out food questionnaires that assessed protein consumption for roughly five years. All had either type 2 diabetes or three or more of these risk factors: smoking, hypertension, dyslipidemia, overweight or obesity, or a family history of premature heart disease.

When protein replaced carbohydrates, the eating plan was linked to a 90 percent greater risk of gaining more than 10 percent of body weight. It was also linked to a 59 percent higher all-cause mortality risk, the researchers found. When protein replaced fat, mortality risk rose 66 percent, the researchers said.

"These results do not support the generalized use of high-protein diets as a good strategy for losing weight," lead researcher Monica Bullo, Ph.D., of the Pere Virgili Health Research Institute in Reus, Spain, told HealthDay. "Long-term efficacy and safety of these diets deserve more attention."

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