The high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, popularized by Dr. Robert Atkins, has been the subject of heated debate in medical circles for three decades. Is the diet an effective method of weight loss? Is it healthy? Now, preliminary findings of a new study at Duke University Medical Center show that a low-carbohydrate diet can indeed lead to significant and sustained weight loss. Dr. Eric Westman, associate professor of medicine, was principal investigator of the six-month study. "We found that 80 percent of the subjects stayed on the diet, which is remarkable for most diet programs. They lost an average of 10 percent of their original body weight, which again is a good amount of weight loss for a diet program." Westman says researchers also found that subjects' cholesterol levels improved, but he cautions that much more scientific research needs to be conducted. "While we're impressed with the weight loss of this diet, we still are not sure about the safety of it. More studies need to be done to be confident about the safety of the diet." The study, which appears in the current issue of The American Journal of Medicine, was funded by the Atkins Foundation. I'm Cabell Smith for Health & Medicine.