European Congress on Obesity

European Congress on Obesity

May 08, 2015
1 min read

High-protein diet may lead to weight gain, mortality in high-risk CVD adults

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Adults at high risk for cardiovascular disease should avoid a high-protein diet, which can put them at greater risk for weight gain and death, according to research presented at the European Obesity Conference in Prague.

In a secondary analysis of the PREDIMED trial, researchers noted a greater risk of weight gain when protein replaced carbohydrates, as well as a greater risk for all-cause mortality when protein replaced either carbohydrates or fat, although the reasons behind the dietary links are unknown.

“At the moment, no evidence supports the use of high-protein diets as a strategy to lose weight long term,” the researchers wrote. “However, there is some evidence, including our study, showing the negative affect of a high-protein diet on other clinical outcomes.”

Jordi Salas-Salvado, MD, PhD, of the Pere Virgili Institute for Investigating Health at Rovira I Virgili University in Reus, Spain, and colleagues analyzed data from participants in the PREDIMED trial, published in 2013. Participants completed a food-frequency questionnaire to track dietary protein consumption during a mean of 4.8 years of follow-up. Researchers used Cox proportional hazard models, including macronutrient substitution models, to calculate various risks of protein intake on body weight and waist circumference changes, as well as on the incidence of CVD outcomes and death.

High total protein intake was significantly associated with a 90% greater risk of more than 10% weight gain when protein replaced carbohydrates (HR = 1.9; 95% CI, 1.05-3.46), but not when protein replaced fat (HR = 1.69; 95% CI, 0.94-3.03). However, a higher protein intake was associated with a greater risk for all-cause mortality when substituted for both carbohydrate (HR = 1.59; 95% CI, 1.08-2.35) and fat (HR = 1.66; 95% CI, 1.13-2.43). 
The data suggest that a high-protein diet may support a modulatory role on the body’s orexin/incretin hormone system that promotes food consumption, according to researchers.

“Regarding the role of a high-protein diet in death risk, it could be due to increased kidney disease, changes in glucose and insulin metabolism, and also a modulatory role on blood fat profiles.” – by Regina Schaffer


Hernandez-Alonso P, et al. Poster T3:OS2.1. Presented at: European Congress on Obesity; May 6-9, 2015; Prague.

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