Professor aims to dispel diet myths with calorie-controlled junk food diet

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

A Kansas State University professor has said he aims to prove that eating junk food does not necessarily lead to weight gain – by spending a month on a calorie-controlled diet of high-fat snacks.

The food and beverage industry has consistently contested the idea that specific foods or drinks cause obesity, with confectioners and sugary drink manufacturers in particular repeatedly saying that their products do not cause weight gain if consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. In addition, several diet trends have promoted the idea that weight loss is easier if a whole nutritional category is eliminated, such as carbohydrates in the case of the Atkins diet.

Mark Haub is a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, and teaches a course in energy balance and obesity. He said he wanted to show that by restricting his caloric intake to 1,800 calories a day, it was possible to lose weight, even while only consuming foods such as peanut butter-chocolate bars, chocolate cake rolls, breakfast pizza, donuts and sugared cereal.

"The purpose is to illustrate metabolic, mental and sociological issues surrounding weight. The principle is simple: eat fewer kilocalories than I expend,"​ Haub said.

Nevertheless, Haub said he expects his overall health to decline over the course of the month and is monitoring it by measuring body mass index, body composition, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.

In terms of weight loss at least, so far his method has shown some success: He started the month-long diet on August 25, and within the first four days claimed to have lost seven pounds.

He also said that the diet is cheap to adhere to.

“It's very inexpensive and I get all of my calories for about five bucks a day,"​ he said. "I am not promoting this or recommending it; it's just an exercise in nutrition."

Haub added that he wanted to highlight that there is no strong definition of healthy weight loss, and to challenge preconceptions about obesity and about diet-friendly foods.

Haub said he will document his progress with the diet on Facebook. Among the ‘likes and interests’ listed on his Facebook page, he mentions Duncan Hines Family Style Brownie Mix and Hostess Twinkies Golden Sponge Cake.

Related topics: R&D, The obesity problem

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