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Advice to eat less, exercise more still trumps diet products for weight loss, study finds

2 commentsBy Caroline Scott-Thomas , 16-Apr-2012

Special diet foods and products are not as effective for weight loss in obese individuals as heeding common advice to eat less and exercise more, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than a third of Americans are now obese and studies suggest that 50% to 70% of the population is trying to lose weight. National guidelines recommend that obese individuals should aim to lose at least 10% of their body weight in order to improve overall health, but even a 5% reduction is thought to be beneficial.

The authors of this latest study looked at diet and weight loss information for 4021 obese adults collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Sixty-three percent of those participants said they had tried to lose weight in the preceding twelve-month period. However, some weight loss strategies were found to be more effective than others.

“Liquid diets, non-prescription diet pills, and popular diets had no association with successful weight loss,” they wrote, “And those who reported losing  ≥ 10% body weight were less likely to report eating diet foods/products, compared with those who did not lose≥ 10%.”

Of those who tried to lose weight, 41% were able to lose five percent of their body weight, and an additional 20% had lost ten percent of their weight – in line with the National Institutes of Health recommendation.

“Obese adults were more likely to report achieving meaningful weight loss if they ate less fat, exercised more, used prescription weight loss medications, or participated in commercial weight loss programs,” they wrote.

Of the reported strategies that worked:

  • 65% ate less food
  • 55% exercised
  • 44% ate less fat
  • 41% switched to foods with fewer calories
  • 4% took diet pills prescribed by a doctor

And those that didn’t work:

  • 41% drank lots of water
  • 14% ate diet foods or products
  • 10% took non-prescription diet pills, including herbal remedies
  • 7% tried a liquid diet

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2 comments (Comments are now closed)

Simplest Solution Works Best

The simplest solution usually works best. The problem is it takes discpline which Americans need to work on when it comes to eating and exercise. It is to easy the other way.

For MB comment - there have not been any correlations drawn between HFCS and obesity, that was a comment from a ill informed writer. Cleared up years ago.

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Posted by DFB
17 April 2012 | 14h55

Is that all it takes?

Wow, what a revelation.

Let's see, NLEA was going to help us eat healthier. That evidently hasn't worked. We have revised labeling regulations to help us eat healthier. That has not worked. We have groups telling us we should not be eating HFCS, sugar, GMO grains, red meat, caramel color, etc so that we can become more healthy. And all we really need to do is eat less and be more active? Sort of like we did before Big Macs, computers and video games.
There are supposed correlations of obesity with consumption of HFCS. Has anyone done a correlation of obesity with excelerated use of computers and vidio games? I didn't think so. That would put food researchers (or so they call themselves) out of work.
Instead of sitting at your computer and snacking, shut off your computers and go outside and do something. Stop blaming the food industry for your poor decisions and life style.

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Posted by MB
16 April 2012 | 18h54

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