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Warning about those very-low-cal diets.

Many obese patients have elected to slim down using physician-supervised, commercial, semi-starvation diet plans programs offering participants just 400 to 600 calories daily for a period of months. The very-low-cal meals' relatively high protein content helps a dieter's body shed fat rather than muscle. But because many adverse side effects. including at least 67 deaths -- have been reported among participants in such programs, a Canadian team of researchers decided to analyze meticulously the nutrients available in prepackaged meals offered through four of these diet plans.

Constantinos G. Zarkadas of Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and his colleagues now report that diets based on some of the five meals they analyzed could indeed prove "life-threatening" without strict medical supervision. The problem, they say, traces to the source and digestibility oi a meal's protein -- milk in one mix, soybeans in another, and collagen (connective tissue) in the remaining three.

Only analyzed meal mixes using a milk- or soybean-based protein contained all the essential amino acids required for human nutrition, they report in the recently issued November JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD CHEMISTRY. Overall, essential amino acid values of those mixes exceeded by about 37 percent the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization; the coliagen-based meals, by contrast, fell 16 to 29 percent below that minimum.
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Title Annotation:collagen-based diet meals contain lower amino acid values than recommended
Author:Fackelmann, Kathy A.
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 30, 1993
Words:214
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