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Latest metanalysis ends the diet war: Pick any but stick to it!

Posted:  Thursday, September 11, 2014

A latest metaanalysis has put an end to the diet wars. The findings concluded that all weight loss diets are the same and any diet can result in weight loss as long as people stick to it.

The findings were published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The analysis done by scientists at McMaster University in Ontario and the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto included 48 clinical trials of more than 7000 people on various diets. Atkins, Zone, Ornish, South Beach were among the diets included in the analysis. The findings revealed that all the diets cut calories to almost similar level which probably explains the results.

The researchers found that either low carbohydrate or low fat diets resulted on an average 8 kg weigh loss over a period of 6 months. However, 1-2 kg was regained by the end of a year. What really matters is that people should adhere to which ever diet plan they choose. For a successful weight loss, people should choose a diet that best suits them and not the one which is better than others. People are likely to reach their target weight by following any diet that imposes least challenges to stick to it.

It is not that there were no differences among the diets, however the differences were so minimal that are not expected to matter to the people trying to lose weight. However, the analysis did not delve into other broader aspects of health such as cholesterol which may differ among diets.

The researchers concluded saying "Our findings should be reassuring to clinicians and the public that there is no need for a one-size-fits-¬all approach to dieting because many different diets appear to offer considerable weight loss benefits.”

With diets going in and out of fashion and proponents of each diet claiming to be the best, weight watchers have always been left baffled. Finally this research offers answers to the great diet conundrum. Indeed, this is great news for people trying to achieve that dream number on the weighing scale.

Sources:

1. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-29031985

2. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=180437

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Full texts of sources:

1. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-29031985

3 September 2014 Last updated at 00:23

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Any diet will do, say researchers, if you stick to it

By James GallagherHealth editor, BBC News website

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All diets - from Atkins to Weight Watchers - have similar results and people should simply pick the one they find easiest, say researchers.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analysed data from 48 separate trials.

The Canadian team concluded that sticking to a diet was more important than the diet itself.

Obesity experts said all diets cut calories to a similar level, which may explain the results.

Diets go in and out of fashion on a regular basis, with a current debate around the relative benefits of low carb and low fat diets.

All the same

Scientists at McMaster University in Ontario and the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto analysed data from 7,286 overweight dieters.

The range of diets covered included, Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Biggest Loser, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Volumetrics, Weight Watchers, Ornish and Rosemary Conley.

It showed that after 12 months, people on low carbohydrate and low fat diets both lost an average of 7.3kg (16lb). Those on low carb meal plans had lost slightly more at the six-month marker.

The report said: "The differences [between diets] were small and unlikely to be important to those seeking weight loss."

It concluded: "Our findings should be reassuring to clinicians and the public that there is no need for a one-size-fits-¬all approach to dieting because many different diets appear to offer considerable weight loss benefits.

"Our findings suggest that patients may choose, among those associated with the largest weight loss, the diet that gives them the least challenges with adherence."

The Atkins diet has a focus on protein

However, the study did not look at wider health issues, such as levels of cholesterol, which may vary according to diet.

Prof Susan Jebb, from the University of Oxford and a government advisor on obesity, said diets were more similar than they appeared, advocating cutting calories to 1,500 a day, sticking to strict meal times and avoiding biscuits, cakes and chocolate.

"The issue is about adherence and it's how closely and how long can you keep sticking to the plan over time that matters.

"That probably means finding the right diet for you, rather than one being so particularly better than the others."

She said people should try to match diets to their lives.

Vegetarians would struggle more with a high protein, low carb diet, while people living on their own may find liquid (instead of meals) diets easier than those who would still have to cook for a family.

2. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=180437

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TUESDAY, Sept. 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Big dieting names like Atkins, Ornish and Weight Watchers have long competed in the battle of the bulge. But a new analysis concludes that whichever diet people choose, their chances of success are about the same.

For years, people seeking to shed weight have heard conflicting messages about the best route: Low fat? Low carb? Low glycemic index?

The analysis, published in the Sept. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests it doesn't matter much. Across 48 clinical trials of more than 7,000 people on diets like Atkins, Zone, Ornish and South Beach, researchers found minimal differences in average weight loss.

Instead, experts said, the old-fashioned advice to cut calories, rather than specific nutrients, seems key to success -- as is burning more calories through exercise.

And ultimately, the "best" diet for any individual is the one he or she can live with long-term, according to Linda Van Horn, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

"The most relevant issue is to choose one that you can stick to indefinitely, since weight loss is only half the battle," said Van Horn, who wrote an editorial published with the study. "Maintenance of weight loss is the ultimate victory."

Unfortunately, maintenance is also the hardest part. Even though people in those 48 studies typically lost weight, they also starting gaining some back by the one-year mark.

"People who follow either a low-fat or low-carb diet lose about 8 kilos [almost 18 pounds], on average, over six months," said lead researcher Bradley Johnston, of the University of Toronto and McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

By the one-year point, though, they'd gained back 2 to 4 pounds. People on more "moderate" diets -- like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem -- lost slightly less weight, and also gained back a similar amount.

"We're not saying there were no differences among the diets," Johnston said. "But the differences were minimal, and not enough to matter to the individual trying to lose weight."

Johnston agreed that with such small differences, the best weight-loss choice is the one you think you can stick with. "Choose the one that gives you the fewest challenges as far as adherence," he said.

But as far as researchers are concerned, Johnston said, "what we really need to understand is, how can people best maintain the initial weight loss?"

For the study, Johnston's team analyzed data from the clinical trials testing various diets -- sometimes in combination with exercise and behavioral counseling. Some studies included people who were obese but healthy; in others, people had obesity-related ills, like type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

Many of the studies focused on lower-carb diets, like Atkins, South Beach and Zone -- where people were told to get, at most, 40 percent of their calories from carbs. Low-fat diets, like Ornish and Rosemary Conley, required people to get no more than 20 percent of their calories from fat, and about 60 percent from carbs.

At six months, people in those trials lost a few pounds more than people in studies of Weight Watchers and other more moderate diets -- which capped fat intake at about 30 percent of daily calories, and carbs at 55 percent to 60 percent.

Across the studies, people generally lost a few extra pounds if the program explicitly told them to exercise, or offered behavioral counseling at least twice a month for the first three months.

According to Van Horn, the findings show there is nothing "magic" about cutting carbs or fat, or adding protein. "The laws of thermodynamics still apply," she said. "Weight loss happens when you consume [fewer calories] than you need. Increasing physical activity helps to lose that weight more steadily, but only if you do not compensate by eating more."

But while shedding pounds is healthy for obese people, it's not everything. "Our study looked only at weight loss," Johnston pointed out. "So we're not necessarily talking about what's best for your health."

Van Horn agreed. "Good health is more than weight loss or weight control," she said.

People need to eat a variety of foods -- including fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich grains, lean proteins and unsaturated fats (from sources like vegetable oil, fatty fish and nuts) -- to get the nutrients that support good health, Van Horn said.