The study included 123 previously inactive, overweight, postmenopausal women in Seattle enrolled in a weight loss study.
Over the course of a year, the women followed a restricted-calorie diet with the goal of achieving a 10% reduction in weight in six months. Half the women were put on an exercise program and the other half were not.
All the participants were asked to record the foods they ate daily in seven-day diaries provided weekly by dietician counselors.
During the study, the women also completed a series of questionnaires designed to assess their individual eating-related behaviors and strategies to achieve weight loss.
At the end of the year, both the diet-alone and diet-and-exercise groups had lost an average of 10% of their starting weight.
Meal Skippers Lost Less
Among the specific findings:
Women who consistently filled out the food journals lost about 6 pounds more than those who didn't.
Those who skipped meals lost an average of 8 fewer pounds than those who didn't.
Women who ate in restaurants at lunch at least once a week lost an average of 5 pounds less than those who ate out less.
"Eating out may be a barrier for making healthful dietary changes because it usually means less individual control over ingredients and cooking methods, as well as larger portion sizes," the researchers wrote.