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Sticking with a diet, more than the type of a
diet, is the key to losing weight. An estimated 64 percent of all American
adults are overweight or obese, and almost 9 million American children aged 6
years and older are obese. Click the image for more information about
Dieting: Success Depends on Calories and
By Rosalie Marion
March 15, 2006
Blaming the type of diet one follows
for failing to lose weight is convenient. But a comparison of four popular
weight-loss diets that volunteers tried for one year showed that sticking with
a diet was more important than the type of diet when it came to losing weight.
The study was funded in part by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)--the chief scientific research agency
of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The
study was featured in the March issue of Agricultural Research magazine,
published by ARS. The issue highlights ARS obesity research.
J. Schaefer and Joi A. Gleason are at the
Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University,
and Michael L. Dansinger is at the Tufts-New England Medical Center. Both
centers are in Boston, Mass.
The study compared the relative merits of the Atkins (carbohydrate
restriction), Ornish (fat restriction), Weight Watchers (calorie and portion
size restriction), and Zone (high-glycemic-load carbohydrate restriction and
increased protein) diets. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical
The researchers randomly assigned 160 overweight or obese volunteers to
follow one of the four diets. During the first two months, all participants
were provided with diet-specific counseling. Among completers of
the entire 12-month regimen, all four diets led to modest, but significant,
weight reductions and a 10-percent improvement in the balance of
good HDL and bad LDL cholesterol levels.
Only about half of the volunteers completed the program while on what the
authors considered to be the more extreme diet plans: Atkins and Ornish. In
contrast, nearly two-thirds were able to complete the more moderate diet plans:
Weight Watchers and Zone.
The study findings show the importance of adopting a caloric-restriction
diet best suited to ones food preferences, lifestyle and health status.
The authors concluded that the strongest predictor of volunteers weight
loss was not the type of diet, but their compliance with it.
more about this research in the March 2006 issue of Agricultural