The Secret to Losing Weight

by DavalosMcCormack on March 16, 2009

Have you ever looked at those health magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store? Of course you have, what else are you going to do while waiting for the woman in front to figure out which coupons go with which item and then do a lengthy search through her purse for her rewards card that gives her another discount only she can’t find it because she has dozens of other discount cards there and they’re all mixed up.

Anyway, have you noticed how the front pages of those magazines – the health ones, the ones we’re talking about, pay attention here – always have such alluring headlines; “Six Ways to a Sexier You”; “Five Tips To Get Six-pack Abs”; “Seven Slimming Secrets of Stars”. They always have a number in there and a way of making it seem that with just a little effort you too can be slim and glamorous.

Well, now a new study in a magazine you never see in the checkout line, The New England Journal of Medicine, has an equally simple recipe for weight loss. Only this one actually works.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), looked at whether fad diets, ones that restricted the kinds of food you ate, are better at promoting weight loss than those that focus more on how much you eat.

Now, we’ve all seen those cabbage soup diets, or all-meat diets, or even the chicken soup diet (you eat a normal breakfast then as much chicken soup, but only chicken soup, throughout the rest of the day). They basically work by limiting how much you eat by cutting out lots of categories of food.

Those diets all work. For a while. The problem is that it’s hard sticking with such a restrictive way of eating. For a start, it gets really boring really fast.

Anyway, the researchers in this study got more than 800 adults to follow one of four diets which were all low in calories but had varying degrees of fat and protein. The participants also had to exercise for 90 minutes a week.

They tested the folks at regular intervals and found, at the end of two years, that they lost an average of 8.8 pounds, regardless of which diet they followed.

What was equally interesting was that the number of people who were still sticking with the diet after two years had plummeted, presumably because it was hard sticking with the same way of eating for that length of time.

The researchers say the good news is that this seems to show that losing weight may actually be simpler than we think, that it has less to do with what kinds of food you are eating and more to do with how many calories you take in.

If you consume more calories than you need and are not doing enough exercise to burn off the surplus, then you’ll put on weight. If you reduce the number of calories you consume, and maybe even increase your activity level, you’ll lose weight.

It’s simple. But didn’t we already know that? Did we really need yet another publicly funded study to tell us that it we eat too much and don’t exercise we’ll get fat? Apparently we did because that is precisely what we got.

But maybe the fact that obesity is on the rise shows that most people still haven’t made that connection, so we have to try and remind them of it. Again. Maybe this time it will work.

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