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Does high-carbohydrate intake lead to increased risk of obesity? A systematic review and meta-analysis

“I have shown before that the body does not turn carbs to fat. In controlled over feeding trials, only about 2% of overfed carbs turn to fat. We are made to eat carbs. Body burns it or stores as glycogen. This study shows that looking at multiple epidemiology studies, carbs do not correlate with obesity. Now, this isn’t the greatest study but when combined with all the literature I cite in my book it becomes pretty clear that worrying about carbs making you fat is ludicrous.”   Garth Davis, MD, author of Proteinaholic


Kurt Sartorius,1,2,3 Benn Sartorius,1,2 Thandinkosi E Madiba,2,4 Cristina Stefan 5


Objectives The present study aimed to test the association between high and low carbohydrate diets and obesity, and second, to test the link between total carbohydrate intake (as a percentage of total energy intake) and obesity.

Setting, participants and outcome measures We sought MEDLINE, PubMed and Google Scholar for observation studies published between January 1990 and December 2016 assessing an association between obesity and high-carbohydrate intake. Two independent reviewers selected candidate studies, extracted data and assessed study quality.

Results The study identi ed 22 articles that fulfilled the inclusion and exclusion criteria and quanti ed an association between carbohydrate intake and obesity. The first pooled strata (high-carbohydrate versus low- carbohydrate intake) suggested a weak increased risk of obesity. The second pooled strata (increasing percentage of total carbohydrate intake in daily diet) showed a weak decreased risk of obesity. Both these pooled strata estimates were, however, not statistically significant.

Conclusions On the basis of the current study, it cannot be concluded that a high-carbohydrate diet or increased percentage of total energy intake in the form of carbohydrates increases the odds of obesity. A central limitation of the study was the non-standard classification of dietary intake across the studies, as well as confounders like total energy intake, activity levels, age and gender. Further studies are needed that specifically classify refined versus unrefined carbohydrate intake, as well as studies that investigate the relationship between high fat, high unrefined carbohydrate–sugar diets.

PrOsPErO registration number CRD42015023257.

Full PDF click here:  e018449.full



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