Study: More exercise, eating less fat, weight loss programs work, popular diets don’t

April 17, 2012 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Study: More exercise, eating less fat, weight loss programs work, popular diets don’t
Contrary to popular perception, a large proportion of obese Americans can and do lose weight, say researchers. What's more, they say, the old tried and true methods of eating less fat and exercising are some of the most effective paths to weight loss success.

The research results appear in the April 10 online issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School analyzed data from more than 4,000 obese individuals living in the United States. Individuals included in the study were over 20 years of age with a body mass index of 30 or more 12 months prior to the interview.

Of those surveyed, 63 percent reported trying to lose weight. Forty percent of these said they experienced weight loss of 5 percent or greater, and another 20 percent lost 10 percent or more. Even a loss of 5 percent of body weight can result in health improvements.

Those who exercised more and ate less fat were significantly more likely to lose weight. As well, those who joined a weight loss programs had greater reported weight loss, which may speak to the importance of structure in a weight loss regimen.  And while those who used prescription weight loss medications also reported weight loss success, this represented only a small number of study participants.

In contrast, self-reported use of popular diets, liquid diets, nonprescription weight loss pills and diet foods/products were not associated with weight loss.

The researchers stated "there are lots of fad diets out there as well as expensive over-the-counter medications that have not necessarily been proven to be effective, and it is important that people discuss product claims with their doctor before trying such products."

This study did not look at the long-term impact of these interventions on an individual's ability to keep the weight off. The authors suggest that future research is needed to identify and address barriers to maintaining weight loss.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.