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Effect of Allowing Choice of Diet on Weight Loss FREE

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The full report is titled "Effect of Allowing Choice of Diet on Weight Loss. A Randomized Trial." It is in the 16 June 2015 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 162, pages 805-814). The authors are W.S. Yancy Jr., S.B. Mayer, C.J. Coffman, V.A. Smith, R.L. Kolotkin, P.J. Geiselman, M.A. McVay, E.Z. Oddone, and C.I. Voils.


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Ann Intern Med. 2015;162(12):I-22. doi:10.7326/P15-9021
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What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Excess weight and obesity are common problems that have potentially serious effects on physical and emotional health. Several approaches to dieting have been shown to help people lose weight, but whether allowing a person to choose which diet to follow (as opposed to telling them which one to follow) makes a difference in the amount of weight lost is not known.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To find out whether people who are allowed to choose their own diet lose more weight than those who are assigned a diet.

Who was studied?

207 obese people (a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or higher).

How was the study done?

The participants were randomly assigned to either a group that was told which of 2 diets to follow or a group whose members were allowed to choose between the diets. One was a low-fat, reduced-calorie diet, and the other was a low-carbohydrate diet. Participants in both groups attended group counseling sessions, and each participant was telephoned individually for additional counseling during the 48-week study. At the end of the study, the researchers compared how much weight was lost in each group as well as how well the participants stuck to their diets.

What did the researchers find?

After 48 weeks, there was no significant difference in the amount of weight lost between participants who had been allowed to choose their diets and those whose diet was assigned to them. Participants were also similar in how well they stuck to their diets as well as in their physical activity and reported quality of life.

What were the limitations of the study?

The study included a choice between only 2 diets, and differences in weight loss might have been observed if there had been more options.

What are the implications of the study?

Although it is often assumed that allowing people to choose which diet to follow will make a difference in weight loss, this did not seem to be the case in this study.

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