How to Eat Plenty and Lose Weight found in Largest Diet Study

Danish Researchers have discovered how to eat plenty and still lose weight. In the world’s largest diet study, scientists say just eat until you’re full, but focus on more protein from lean meat and beans, avoid refined carbohydrates and consume low-fat dairy products.

The findings that the diet will lead to weight loss are significant for fighting the obesity epidemic. Researchers looked at the effect of five types of diets find how which diet is best for weight control, concluding that current dietary recommendations won’t prevent obesity.

More Protein, Low Carbohydrate Best for Weight Loss and Maintenance

The five diets used as part of the Diogenes study included low protein and high glycemic index GI, low protein, low GI, high protein, low GI and high protein high GI. For the control, current dietary guidelines in Europe were used without regard to glycemic index.

The low protein diet comprised 13 percent of energy and 25 percent for the high protein group. High GI food index for the study was 70 or more. The glycemic index uses a scale of 0 to 100 and represents how quickly glucose enters the bloodstream. Below 55 on the glycemic index scale is considered low.

Overweight adults were enrolled in an initial weight loss phase of the study that restricted calories to 800 per day for 8 weeks who lost an average of 22 pounds. After the initial weight loss, they were randomly assigned one of the five diets to follow for six months. The study included 772 European families -938 adults and 827 children.

At the study end, fewer participants in the high protein, low glycemic index group dropped out compared to low protein, high glycemic index. Average weight regain in all of the groups was 1.1 pounds. The low protein, high GI group fared the worst and gained an average of 3.4 pounds.

The children in the study also lost weight even though they were not calorie restricted before the start of the study. The percentage of overweight kids dropped from almost 50 percent to 39 percent.

The reason for the diet’s success is in the carbohydrate reduction and added protein that curbs appetite and allows people to feel fuller, longer.

Adding a little more lean protein to the diet, replacing refined carbohydrates with whole grains and brown rice and pastas and avoiding sugary white flour desserts can make a difference for keeping weight off, staying slim and feeling satisfied, shown in the study. The researchers also recommend water or low fat milk with meals.

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Why Weight Watchers Works

Researchers observed what happens at Weight Watchers meetings and why it is so successful. The conclusion is that Weight Watchers works so well because it combines spirituality and therapy. Meetings are an important part of the Weight Watchers program because they help members find relief from psychological trauma linked to weight loss.

Study authors Risto Moisio (California State University, Long Beach) and Mariam Beruchashvili (California State University, Northridge) say, “Even if Weight Watchers’ advertisements make it sound as if it were only about weight loss, the social function of weekly meetings extends far beyond the tricks of the weight loss trade.”

The researchers conducted interviews with women at Weight Watchers meetings, and observed. The study authors concluded that Weight Watchers provides a valuable service in terms of psychological support. Pursuing weight loss is an immensely daunting project fraught with many troubles, whether psychological, social, or physical. To overcome these challenges, consumers turn to Weight Watchers.”

Being around fellow Weight Watchers is both spiritual and therapeutic. “The support group gives meaning to members’ at times trauma-ridden overweight condition, grants forgiveness for members’ weight loss failures, offers valued oversight and overarching guidance needed to make it through the trials and tribulations of the week, as well as casting the occasional weight-loss successes in a veneer of much-needed glamour”, conclude the researchers.

The study showed that Weight Watchers is much more than just a weight loss program. The support garnered from attending weekly meetings provides member with the spiritual support needed to make weight loss a success.

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Weight Loss Surgery for Obese Adolescents

As the number of adolescents who are overweight or obese rises, some of them are choosing weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery. Not all experts agree that such surgery is a safe option for young people who are still developing, yet research indicates that the surgeries seem to be safe.

Although there are no current figures on the number of adolescents who have undergone weight loss surgery in the past few years, about 200 teenagers had the surgery in 2000, and by 2003 the number had risen to 800, according to a study conducted by investigators at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and published in the March 2007 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Indications are that the trend is for an increasing number of procedures performed each year.

Some indication of the number of weight loss surgeries performed in adolescents can be seen in the results of a study to be presented at the American Pediatrics Association National Conference and Exhibition on October 17, 2009, in Washington, DC. The researchers found that a total of 589 adolescents (ages 14 to 20 years) underwent weight loss surgery in California from 2005 to 2007. The in-hospital complications rate was 5.6 percent, and no deaths were reported. Although a procedure known as gastric banding has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in young people, the number of these surgeries has increased significantly, and it was one of the more popular procedures performed.

At Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, which has one of the largest adolescent-specific bariatric surgery programs in the United States, more than 70 obese teens underwent weight loss surgery between 2001 and 2007.

The authors of the 2007 Robert Wood Johnson study found that among morbidly obese teens who turn to weight loss surgery, the procedure poses no greater risks for them than for adults, and that they recover faster than older patients. They also found that the teens had shorter hospitals stays and no in-hospital deaths, compared with a 0.2 percent mortality rate seen in adults.

Approximately 15 percent of adolescents in the United States are obese, and about 75 percent of them go on to be obese adults. Although being obese is associated with a great number of health risks, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, degenerative joint disorders, and sleep apnea, some surgeons are reluctant to perform weight loss surgery on individuals younger than eighteen because their bones have not yet fully grown and the long-term impact of the surgery on their lives is not known. Other experts believe the health risks outweigh these concerns.

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Ornish diet tops the list of the best weight-loss plans

Research finds that some popular weight-loss plans such as Ornish Diet outperform others in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease

Over the past three decades, the rising obesity epidemic has been accompanied by a proliferation of weight-loss plans. However, as a new study by researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) reveals, these weight-loss plans vary significantly in their ability to positively affect heart health.

In “A Dietary Quality Comparison of Popular Weight-Loss Plans,” published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, several weight-loss plans significantly outperformed others in their ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Specifically, the investigators found that the Ornish, Weight Watchers High Carbohydrate and New Glucose Revolution plans scored highest when measured by the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI). Proven to be a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease, the AHEI is a measure that isolates dietary components that are most strongly linked to cardiovascular disease risk reduction.

“Obviously, obesity is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease,” said UMMS Assistant Professor of Medicine Yunsheng Ma, PhD, MPH, one of the study’s primary authors. “Optimal weight-loss plans should facilitate both weight loss and chronic disease prevention, specifically cardiovascular risk reduction.”

Choosing weight-loss plans based on their status on The New York Times bestseller list during the past five years, Dr. Ma and colleagues evaluated the dietary quality of the New Glucose Revolution, Weight Watchers High Carbohydrate and Weight Watchers High Protein, Atkins 100- and 45-gram Carbohydrate, South Beach Phase 2 and Phase 3, The Zone, Ornish and the 2005 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide Pyramid plans. Weight Watchers and the 2005 USDA Food Guide Pyramid plan were included because they are the largest commercial weight loss plan and the current government recommendation, respectively. Elements used to determine dietary quality included ratio of white to red meat, ratio of polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat, and quantities of fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, cereal fiber and trans fats, all of which are known to affect cardiovascular health.

Of a maximum 70 points, the AHEI scores from highest to lowest were: Ornish (64.6); Weight Watchers High Carbohydrate (57.4); New Glucose Revolution (57.2); South Beach/Phase 2 (50.7); Zone (49.8); 2005 USDA Food Guide Pyramid (48.7); Weight Watchers High Protein (47.3); Atkins/100 g Carb (46); South Beach/Phase 3 (45.6) and Atkins/45g Carb (42.3). According to study co-author and UMass Memorial Medical Center registered dietitian Barbara Olendzki, RD, MPH, an instructor in medicine at UMMS, “The highest performing plans – Ornish, Weight Watchers High Carb and the New Glucose Revolution – fared well due to an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, higher whole grain composition and lower trans fats.”

“One of the unexpected findings is that the 2005 USDA Food Guide Pyramid, the current government recommendation, fared significantly worse than the New Glucose Revolution, Weight Watchers High Carbohydrate and Ornish plans,” said Ma. “The USDA dietary guidelines were originally devised to prevent nutrient deficiencies and it’s clear that we need to modify or rebuild the pyramid to look into cardiovascular disease prevention, as it is the leading cause of death and disability for Americans. Americans deserve a better dietary guideline and recommendation”.

“Patients can lose weight with most dietary plans in the short term, but whether the plan they choose maximizes cardiovascular risk reduction over the long term should also be a consideration for patients and health care providers,” concluded study co-author Sherry Pagoto, PhD, UMMS assistant professor of medicine and a clinical psychologist at the UMass Memorial Weight Center.

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Weight Loss Surgery for Children Should Be Reserved for Severe Cases

In the United States, the number of people seeking weight loss surgery has increased rapidly over the last several years. In 2007, about 205,000 people underwent bariatric surgery, up from 171,000 in 2005. There are not specific statistics for adolescents, but due to the increase in childhood obesity, the number of surgeries being performed on teens has also increased.

Although an effective tool for weight loss, a team of experts from the US and the UK say that bariatric (weight loss) surgery should only be performed on severely obese children in the highest five percent of BMI and only after proving unsuccessful weight loss with non-invasive methods.

To date, no controlled trials have addressed the long-term safety of bariatric surgery in adolescents. “The risks of bariatric surgery are substantial, and long-term safety and effectiveness in children remain largely unknown,” write the authors of the study.

Weight loss surgery is associated with malabsorption of nutrients that could be detrimental to growing teens. Calcium, for example, is crucial during this time period of building peak bone mass and interruption of calcium absorption could lead to earlier onset of osteoporosis.

The data review, published in The Lancet and led by Susal J. Woolford MD MPH, medical director of the Pediatric Comprehensive Weight Management Center at the University of Michigan, included statistics from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Britain, and the United States. She concluded that weight loss surgery should be limited to children who have a body mass index over 50. If there are substantial risk factors involved, such as poorly controlled diabetes or obstructive sleep apnea, a lower BMI of 40 could be considered. Before undergoing surgery, most physicians recommend an extended pre-surgical period of monitored treatment lasting at least 12 months.

Although the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band (LAGB) is less invasive, a major obstacle to its use in adolescents is the dramatic changes that the teen must make to his or her lifestyle in order to be successful. For many doctors, this raises the question of whether or not teens have the maturity to understand this and cope with the regimen restrictions.

The researchers also recommend a “very conservative approach when considering drug therapy” in obese children and adolescents. A comprehensive, multi-disciplinary team effort focusing on diet, exercise, and behavioral management should be used prior to the initiation of pharmacotherapy.

“In keeping with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics for the treatment of obesity in adolescents, after primary care efforts to lose weight have failed to achieve sufficient weight loss, patients should be referred for multidisciplinary care,” Dr. Woolford said. “In this setting, bariatric surgery can also be considered if intensive behavioral interventions are not effective.”

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