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Weight Loss With Diets Focused on 1 Versus Several Dietary Changes FREE

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The full report is titled “Single-Component Versus Multicomponent Dietary Goals for the Metabolic Syndrome. A Randomized Trial.” It is in the 17 February 2015 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 162, pages 248-257). The authors are Y. Ma, B.C. Olendzki, J. Wang, G.M. Persuitte, W. Li, H. Fang, P.A. Merriam, N.M. Wedick, I.S. Ockene, A.L. Culver, K.L. Schneider, G.F. Olendzki, J. Carmody, T. Ge, Z. Zhang, and S.L. Pagoto.


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Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(4):I-30. doi:10.7326/P15-9004
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What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Weight loss is difficult for many people, and no single approach to dieting has been established as superior. Some dietary recommendations, such as those of the American Heart Association (AHA), include consuming more vegetables or fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, and fish and limiting sugar, carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol, and alcohol consumption. Another approach to dieting involves a focus on increasing the amount of fiber eaten. Whether one approach is better is not known.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To find out whether a single dietary change is better than a more complex set of instructions to help people lose weight.

Who was studied?

240 overweight people with other characteristics of the metabolic syndrome, which is a group of conditions, including high cholesterol, blood pressure, or blood sugar, that increases the risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other problems.

How was the study done?

Participants were randomly assigned to follow a high-fiber diet or the AHA diet. In addition to being provided with individualized dietary instructions, all participants were asked to attend group counseling sessions in which the goals of their assigned diets were reviewed and questions were answered. The researchers measured changes in the participants' weight during the 12-month study.

What did the researchers find?

After 12 months, the amount of weight lost in the 2 groups was similar, although the AHA diet group lost slightly more weight. Patients in this group lost up to 3.8 more pounds than the high-fiber diet group. A few participants developed diabetes during the study, which is a common problem for people with the metabolic syndrome; more of these individuals were in the high-fiber diet group.

What were the limitations of the study?

As is common in many diet trials, a substantial number of participants did not complete the entire 12-month study. In addition, the study was not able to firmly conclude that the 2 diets resulted in similar amounts of weight loss. Finally, whether the amount of weight loss observed could be accomplished without group counseling sessions or maintained afterward is not known.

What are the implications of the study?

Although the AHA diet resulted in more weight loss after 12 months, a simpler approach to diet that emphasizes only an increase in dietary fiber might be a reasonable alternative for people who do not want or are unable to make more complicated dietary changes.

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