Magazine article Insight on the News

A Cheeseburger a Day Keeps Cholesterol Away

Magazine article Insight on the News

A Cheeseburger a Day Keeps Cholesterol Away

Article excerpt

Doctors long have held that fast-food restaurants should be avoided by patients with high cholesterol, notes Michael H. Davidson, medical director of the Chicago Center for Clinical Research. Davidson claims his research, recently published in the American Medical Association's Archives of Internal Medicine, debunks that notion. It's possible, says Davidson, for the millions of Americans who eat daily at quick-service restaurants -- about one-third of the population -- to balance their intake of dietary fat to meet recommendations set by the National Cholesterol Education Program, or NCEP -- even patients with higher-than-normal cholesterol levels.

But Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, blasted the research -- which was funded by McDonald's Corp. "There's no new science here and it's not good public health advice," she says. "It's really just PR to shore up the reputation of the industry that's footing the bill."

Davidson denies her charges and maintains that McDonald's was "not involved" in the design of the study or the data analysis. "We did everything we know could be done to make sure the results were unbiased," he says, adding that an independent investigator was brought in "to oversee the conduct of the study."

Davidson and his research colleagues compared two groups of adults, all of whom were used to high-fat diets, had high cholesterol and had not previously undergone diet counseling. One group consumed a "traditional" 1,800-calorie-a-day NCEP diet; the other incorporated fast-food meals five times a week into their 1,800-calorie-a-day NCEP diet. …

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