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Of five target weight loss behaviors studied, the behavior that induced the greatest weight loss for obese individuals was portion control and the least was planned exercise, according to results of a new 24-month federally funded obesity study led by Summa Health System researchers, Akron, Ohio.
The other three behaviors studied were reduced dietary fat consumption, increased fruit and vegetable consumption and increased physical activity.
The study, published in the September issue of Obesity Research, states 38 percent of obese patients who consistently spent two years practicing food portion control lost five percent or more of their baseline weight.
Conversely, they concluded that 33 percent of patients who did not consistently practice portion control gained five percent or more of their baseline weight.
"The message in the study is that you have to eat fewer calories and/or burn more calories if you want to lose weight," said Everett Logue, Ph.D., lead investigator of the study.
"There are no short cuts. Since we live in an obesogenic environment, you cannot rely on the overeating and sedentary signals that the environment is constantly sending. You have to block these signals out and change the way that you shop for food, where you eat, and how you spend your non-work time. You cannot follow the crowd, because the crowd is getting more overweight each year."
Patients who inquired about the study and were primary care patients, ages 40 to 69, with elevated body mass indices greater than 27 or elevated waist/hip ratios greater than 0.950 for men or 0.800 for women were eligible for the study.
The data for the study called Reasonable Eating and Activity to Change Health (REACH) was obtained from 329 overweight or obese primary care patients from 15 primary care practices in Northeastern Ohio from July 1998 to December 2002.
Eighty-four percent of the participants were between the ages of 40 and 59 years: 30 percent were males; 28 percent identified themselves as African Americans; and 45 percent had body mass indices (BMI) over 34.9 kg/m2.
Funding for the study was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Summa Health System Foundation.
For a copy of the article in Obesity Research, log on Summa's Web site
at http://www.obesityresearch.org or http://www.summahealth.org
Source Summa Health System, www.summahealth.org, www.obesityresearch.org