Diets Cause More Harm Than Good

I know, we all want to blame it on studies of bad diets-maybe it included Ornish, or Atkins, or the Standard American Diet or fads, which could muddy the data.  That could be a problem with a mega analysis but this study seems well done.  No one wants to believe that permanent weight loss isn’t possible (unless you didn’t have that much to lose to begin with).  The researchers think that unless you are in the 1-2% who can change your life enough to keep weight off, dieting (as opposed to healthy eating) will only make your weight problem worse.  And it isn’t just psychological feelings of deprivation.

UCLA psychologists Traci Mann (right) and Janet Tomiyama analyzed 31 long-term studies on dieting. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - Los Angeles)
UCLA psychologists Traci Mann (right) and Janet Tomiyama analyzed 31 long-term studies on dieting. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - Los Angeles)

Dieting Does Not Work, Researchers Report

ScienceDaily (2007-04-05) — Dieting does not work, report researchers who analyzed 31 long-term studies on dieting. “You can initially lose five to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back,” said Traci Mann, UCLA associate professor of psychology and lead author of the study. “We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more.  Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people”

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070404162428.htm#

  • The study was perhaps the most rigorously analyzed and most comprehensive of its type
  • At least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within four or five years, and the true number may well be significantly higher
  • The study underestimates how many people fail at diets since the failures are reluctant to return for follow-ups.  Many studies have less than 50% followup and rely upon self-reporting of weight levels.
  • Several studies indicate that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain.
  • One study found that both men and women who participated in formal weight-loss programs gained significantly more weight over a two-year period than those who had not participated in a weight-loss program.
  • Even when you follow dieters four years after the diet, they are still gaining weight.
  • Exercise may be the key factor leading to sustained weight loss. Studies consistently find that people who reported the most exercise also had the most weight loss.
  • None of this means that eating healthy foods in moderation and exercise are not worthwhile.  You can be healthy and improve blood sugar levels or blood lipids.

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