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Best Diet? The One You'll Follow

Study Shows Weight Loss Is Similar in Four Types of Diets

'No Magic Diets'

"The message is people can lose a modest amount of weight and keep it off for an extended period of time," says George A. Bray, MD, a professor of medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of the Louisiana State University System in Baton Rouge, and a study co-author.

"I think the important message for people is, there are no magic diets," he says.

Next, the researchers hope to tease out whether the diet works better for obese dieters -- about 75% of the participants -- or for those who are overweight but not obese. That subgroup analysis is underway now, Bray tells WebMD. "My guess is, those who are overweight will do almost as well as the obese."

The counseling sessions and meetings were a valuable part of the program, Sacks says, and those who attended lost a bit more. "They gave people a sense of support, gave participants a chance to ask questions, meet other people, and get tips."

Sack's advice? "Find a diet that's heart-healthy. Follow it, and really be mindful of your intake. Get some support from other people in your life or from organized groups."

Finally, give it time. The best way, Sacks add, is to focus on a mild reduction in intake over the long haul.

Second Opinions

The best-diet study findings don't surprise Lona Sandon, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

"As shown in this study, any diet will help you lose weight regardless of where the calories come from," she tells WebMD.

Ultimately, she adds, "the diet that works for weight loss is the one that is right for you." She urges dieters to approach weight loss on an individual level, taking into account their dietary needs and preferences.

Martijn Katan PhD, from the Institute of Health Sciences, VU University, Amsterdam takes a somewhat different view of the findings.

In an accompanying editorial, he notes that at the end of two years, average body mass index of participants was still in the obese range and their weight was going back up. Pointing to successful community programs in Europe, Katan argues that rather than an individual diet approach, perhaps what we really need is a change in paradigm, where groups and communities come together to encourage healthier food consumption and increased movement. "Obesity may be a problem that cannot be solved by individual persons but that requires community action," he says.

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