Weight Loss Wrong Focus In Diet Plan

Elizabeth S. Reames  |  4/7/2006 1:49:57 AM

News You Can Use For April 2006

Focusing on health and on changing behavior, instead of on weight loss, is the apparent key to better health, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.

The nutritionist’s assertion is backed up by a recent study reported in the USDA’s Agricultural Research magazine, in which education and coaching centered on health – rather than on weight loss – were found to help chronic dieters improve their blood pressure, cholesterol and other health indicators.

Agricultural Research Service chemist Nancy Keim and physiologist Marta Van Loan, both with the ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, Calif., collaborated with University of California-Davis researchers for the study.

After two years of participating in the study, the group of 38 women – who learned how to build their self-esteem; recognize and follow the body’s natural, internal cues to hunger and fullness; make healthy food choices; and enjoy some form of physical activity – had better health indicators than the group of 38 women who learned only to monitor their weight, control their eating and exercise briskly. Both groups were instructed in nutrition basics.

At the start and end of the study, all participants’ total cholesterol and systolic blood pressure were in the normal range. The health-centered women, however, lowered their total cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, and they were able to maintain those reductions.

The weight-loss women didn't lower their total cholesterol at any point in the investigation. In addition, they weren't able to maintain the healthful decrease in systolic blood pressure that they'd achieved just after the six-month weight-loss phase.

In addition, after two years, the health-centered group had nearly quadrupled the amount of time they spent in moderate, hard or very hard physical activity, compared to what they had reported at the beginning of the study. On the other hand, although the weight-loss group exercised more after one year than at the start, it wasn’t able to sustain the improved level after two years.

Reames advises following the LSU AgCenter’s Portions Healthy Weight Program, which focuses on lifestyle changes to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. For additional information about Portions, she says to contact the extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter Office.

For related weight-control information, click on the Family and Home link on the LSU AgCenter home page, at www.lsuagcenter.com.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com

Source: Beth Reames (225) 578-3929, or breames@agcenter.lsu.edu

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