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Background: Chronic diseases adversely affect quality of life (QOL). The ketogenic diet (KD) may improve the QOL. Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to summarize the available evidence of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to establish the effect of KD on the QOL in adults with chronic diseases. Methods: Reporting followed PRISMA guidelines. We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) conducted on adults with chronic disease including an intervention group that received KD and a control group, and where QOL was reported as outcome. We searched PubMed, APA PsycInfo, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and, and the references of the included articles and previous relevant reviews, without language or time restrictions. We critically appraised included studies and narratively synthesized their findings. Results: Nine RCTs were included. The risk of bias was low, except of allocation concealment and blinding. In patients with cancer: one RCT found an improvement in overall QOL, another reported improved physical component summary, and one found no superiority of KD in all QOL domains. In patients with neurological disorders: improved QOL was reported in Alzheimer’s disease patients, whereas no difference in mental and physical health QOL was noted in patients with multiple sclerosis. In patients with obesity and type II diabetes: one RCT reported superiority of energy-restricted KD in improving role functioning, mental health, health perceptions, and pain compared with guideline-based diet, whereas in another RCT, high and low carbohydrate diets achieved comparable improvements. Among patients with knee osteoarthritis, no differences between KD and low-fat groups were noted. Dietary compliance with the KD, reported in three studies, was shown to be high. Side effects were mostly noted during the first weeks of intervention, and adverse events were not markedly different with KD and the comparison diet. Conclusions: The evidence from RCTs investigating the effect of KD on QOL in adults with chronic disease is inconclusive. The promising effect noted in some included studies and the low rates of adverse events and side effects encourage future investigations in this regard.








Medicine and Health Sciences


Chronic disease, Diet, Ketogenic, Meta-analysis, Quality of life, Systematic review

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Gold: This publication is openly available in an open access journal/series