Some Weighty Topics in the News

by DavalosMcCormack on July 3, 2008

Which is better for losing weight, Weight Watchers or going to the gym? The smart-ass answer is why not do both? But say you had to choose. Go on, say it! OK, well according to a new study out the answer is still the same, they work best in combination, but the way they got that answer is really interesting.

The research was done by the University of Missouri College of Human Environmental Sciences. Some participants were given gym membership, some were signed up for Weight Watchers, the well-known weight loss program. They not only measured how much weight the participants lost, they also did some sophisticated measurements of their body composition to see what kind of weight they lost, and where they lost it from.

The folks who went to the gym didn’t lose much weight. In contrast the Weight Watchers group lost an average of nine pounds; however, much of that was lean tissue and not fat. And as lead researcher Steve Ball says “It is advantageous to keep lean tissue because it’s correlated with higher metabolism. Losing lean tissue slows metabolism. What your body is made of is more important than what you weigh.”

They also found that while the gym group lost little weight they did lose body fat and in particular they lost what is called intra-abdominal fat, the kind that puts you at greater risk of heart disease.

However, the Weight Watchers group did win in one area. Support. Because they had lots of support they were far more likely to stick with the 12 week program than people going to the gym. So the answer is to follow both programs. One that offers support and guidance on losing weight, and one that promotes physical activity so the weight you lose turns to muscle not flab.

And of course because you are spending so much time and money on both programs you won’t have any money left for food or time to eat it. Maybe that’s the real key secret!

Weekends Weaken Weight Loss

Here’s something that should be no surprise to anyone. It’s harder to stick with a diet on the weekend.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that people on strict diets tend to eat more at the weekends than during the week, slowing their overall weight loss.

The reason is pretty obvious. Weekends are when people have parties, social gatherings, go out to dinner with friends etc. Temptation is greater. And to paraphrase Oscar Wilde “we can resist anything, except temptation.”

Mediterranean Diet Can Dramatically Reduce Cancer Risk

Finally some good news about food. Following a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce your risk of cancer by almost 25%. That’s according to a study that sounds like a veritable United Nations soup. It was done by a team from Harvard, who followed 26,000 Greeks, and the results are published in the British Journal of Cancer.

The Mediterranean diet is one high in fruits and vegetables and low on red meat and dairy produce. The researchers found that the more closely the people followed the diet, the lower their risk for a variety of cancers such as stomach, bowel, liver and cervix. Oh, and they also had lower risks for brain tumors too.

Just using more olive oil and less butter reduced the risk by 9 per cent. Add in more elements, like more lentils and pulses instead of red meat, and the odds kept dropping faster than Dick Cheney’s friends at a shooting party.

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