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Fad Diets vs. Exercise and Less Fat Consumption

by fat.com

A study of the effectiveness of current weight loss programs in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that fad diets, liquid diets, and weight loss pills will not yield significant weight loss results compared to the tried and true methods of eating less fat and getting more exercise.

Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts recently conducted a study of the effectiveness of many current weight loss programs that appeared in the April online issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The not-so-surprising result of the research suggests that the use of popular diets, liquid diets, nonprescription weight loss pills and diet foods were not really associated with significant weight loss, and that the old fashioned methods of eating less fat and exercising more were found to be far more effective paths to true weight loss.

The researchers also noted that contrary to popular belief, many obese Americans can and do lose weight if they work at it sensibly. The study also showed that even a 5 percent reduction in weight can lead to improved health and because millions of Americans are currently attempting to lose weight, it translates to hundreds of thousands of people exposed to the increased health risks that are associated with carrying around unwanted extra pounds.

In order to conduct the latest study, the researchers analyzed the data from over 4,000 obese Americans taken from several years of ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys that were compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the current health and nutritional status of adults in the United States. To participate in the study, individuals needed to be over 20 years of age with a body mass higher than 30 during the 12 months prior to the study. When the numbers were crunched, just over half (2,500 people) reported they were simply trying to lose weight. Of those actively trying to lose weight, 40 percent said they had lost 5 percent or more of their weight, and another 20 percent reported success in losing 10 percent or more.

The researchers noted that the people who exercised more often and ate less fat were far more likely to lose significant weight, and that there was a direct correlation between joining a weight loss program and greater reported weight losses, a factor that underscores the importance of structure in a weight loss program. The findings also showed that while those people who used prescription weight loss medications did report some weight loss success, that group only represented only a very small number of the study participants.

Overall, it appears the most successful weight loss methods are those that are often the most accessible and least expensive, and that fad diets and weight loss medications were not proven to be as effective.

The study suggests that while more research is definitely needed to address the many problems of maintaining an effective weight loss program, those individuals seeking weight-loss results today should consult their physicians before embracing any radical new diets or medications that claim to deliver instant results.