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Eat More, Lose More Weight

Study: Low-Density-Food Diet Works
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 8, 2007 -- Obese women on a low-fat diet lose weight, but they lose more if they eat more low-calorie-density fruits, veggies, and soups.

The finding comes from a year-long study based on the principles of the "Volumetrics" diet proposed by Penn State University researcher Barbara J. Rolls, PhD. Consumer Reports recently gave Volumetrics the top rating among popular diet plans.

The diet cuts way back on fats, which ounce-for-ounce carry more calories, making them more calorie dense than any other food. But the study offers a big bonus: You get to eat lots of water-rich, low-density foods such as fruits, vegetables, and soups.

It works in short-term studies. But can it work for longer periods?

Rolls, Julia A. Ello-Martin, PhD, and colleagues enrolled 97 obese women whose average weight was about 200 pounds. The women were stratified by age and severity of obesity and then randomly assigned to one of two diets.

Half the women went on a low-fat diet. The other half went on the same low-fat diet but was told to eat more water-rich fruits, vegetables, soups.

Of course, the women didn't just go on a diet. They got lots and lots of help.

For the first six months, women in both groups had individual, 30-minute, weekly sessions with a dietitian. They also were taught new cooking techniques, including how to modify their favorite recipes to reduce their fat content. And they got lessons on grocery shopping, dining-out strategies, and meal/snack ideas.

Moreover, the women received behavior therapy stressing self-monitoring, goal-setting, social-support networks, coping with emotional eating, managing stress and the environment, overcoming obstacles, problem solving, and handling setbacks.

Physical and deprivation while reducing calories, Ello-Martin says in a news release.

The study appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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