Low-carb diets could shorten life, study suggests

A low-carb diet could shorten life expectancy by up to four years, a study suggests.

Low-carb diets, such as Atkins, have become increasingly popular for weight loss and have shown promise for lowering the risk of some illnesses. But a US study over 25 years indicates that moderate carb consumption - or switching meat for plant-based protein and fats - is healthier. The study relied on people remembering the amount of carbohydrates they ate.

In the study, published in The Lancet Public Health, 15,400 people from the US filled out questionnaires on the food and drink they consumed, along with portion sizes. From this, scientists estimated the proportion of calories they got from carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

After following the group for an average of 25 years, researchers found that those who got 50-55% of their energy from carbohydrates (the moderate carb group and in line with UK dietary guidelines) had a slightly lower risk of death compared with the low and high-carb groups.