Top Stories


    Oct 17, 2014

    Common dieting tip 'carries no weight'


    WEIGHT-LOSS guidelines have long counselled dieters that kilos shed too quickly are likelier to creep back than those lost at a slower pace.

    But an Australian study, published on Wednesday, says this is wrong.

    Over the long term, fast-track and slow-track dieters are equally likely to regain most of the weight they have lost, according to a paper published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

    Research led by Joseph Proietto of the University of Melbourne divided 204 obese men and women into two groups.

    One group entered a weight-loss programme of 12 weeks, the other a more gradual one of 36 weeks. The 12-week group was restricted to a diet of 450 to 800 calories per day, while the other group had its energy intake reduced by about 500 calories a day.

    Those who lost 12.5 per cent or more of their body weight from both groups were then placed on a three-year maintenance diet.

    By the end of the trial, individuals in both groups had, on average, regained some 71 per cent of the kilos they had shed.

    "By contrast with the widely held belief that weight lost rapidly is more quickly regained, our findings show that (weight regained) is similar after gradual or rapid weight loss," the team said.

    "Our data should guide committees that develop clinical guidelines for the management of obesity to change their advice," they added.

    Dieters are generally told that a weight-loss tempo of no more than 500g a week is best.

    The researchers noted some interesting short-term differences in how the two groups responded.

    Among the fast-dieting group, more achieved their weight-loss target - 81 per cent compared with half of the other group - and fewer left the programme.

    These initial successes may be partly explained by a process called ketosis, which kicks in with a low-calorie intake: The body burns fat to produce breakdown products called ketones, which are known to suppress hunger.

    "Losing weight quickly may also motivate participants to persist with their diet and achieve better results," said the authors. But this made no difference in the longer term, with the weight piling up again over time.

    "For weight loss, a slow and steady approach does not win the race," said Corby Martin and Kishore Gadde of the United States-based Pennington Biomedical Research Centre. "The myth that rapid weight loss is associated with rapid weight regain is no more true than one of Aesop's fables."