More on the Diet Debate

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A low-calorie diet, particularly one that includes meal-replacement foods, can lead to long-term weight loss, according to researchers at the University of Kentucky. In addition, they say, more exercise helps to keep the weight off. Researchers examined data from 29 studies of weight-loss programs for their report, which was published in the November 2001 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The studies examined the effects of two types of diets: a very-low-energy diet of less than 800 calories per day based on meal-replacement foods such as shakes, energy bars and low-calorie entrees; and a hypoenergetic balanced diet of 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day from normal foods. Follow-up continued for five years after subjects completed the weight-loss programs.

Both groups maintained weight loss after four or five years—15 pounds, or 29 percent of their initial weight loss, for the very-low-calorie group; and four pounds, or 17 percent, for the balanced-diet group, according to the report. Also, those “who exercised more had significantly greater weight-loss maintenance than did those who exercised less.”

Worth noting, those on the very-low-calorie diet or those who lost 44 pounds or more “maintained significantly more weight loss” than those on the balanced diet or those who lost fewer than 22 pounds.

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