Thursday, October 9, 2008

An Easy Way to Double Your Weight Loss

Keeping a food diary can double your weight loss, according to Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon in one of the largest and longest-running weight loss maintenance trials ever conducted. The study included participants with an average age of 55 who were from four U.S. cities, Portland, Oregon; Baltimore, Maryland; Durham, North Carolina; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The results were stunning. Those who kept a food diary lost about 18 pounds, compared to 9 pounds for those who did not keep such a diary.

"The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost," said lead study author Dr. Jack Hollis, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente. "Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories." In addition to keeping food diaries and turning them in at weekly support group meetings, participants were asked to follow a heart-healthy DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables and low-fat or non-fat dairy, attend weekly group sessions and exercise at moderate intensity levels for at least 30 minutes a day. After six months, the average weight loss among the nearly 1,700 participants was approximately 13 pounds. More than two-thirds of the participants (69 percent) lost at least nine pounds, enough to reduce their health risks and qualify for the second phase of the study, which lasted 30 months and tested strategies for maintaining the weight loss.

"More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. If we all lost just nine pounds, like the majority of people in this study did, our nation would see vast decreases in hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke," said study co-author Dr. Victor Stevens, a Kaiser Permanente researcher. For example, in an earlier study Stevens found that losing as little as five pounds can reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure by 20 percent.

What is a food diary? "Keeping a food diary doesn't have to be a formal thing. Just the act of scribbling down what you eat on a Post-It note, sending yourself e-mails tallying each meal, or sending yourself a text message will suffice. It's the process of reflecting on what you eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior," says Dr. Keith Bachman, a Weight Management Initiative member. "Every day I hear patients say they can't lose weight. This study shows that most people can lose weight if they have the right tools and support. And food journaling in conjunction with a weight management program or class is the ideal combination of tools and support." The study findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
source: Netscape.com

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