News / Health

Study Finds Food Choices Key in Controlling Weight

Multimedia

Vidushi Sinha

It's a common belief that eating in moderation, whatever you eat, is the key to successfully managing your weight.  But that belief is being challenged by a new study of the diet and lifestyle habits of more than 120,000 adult Americans over the past 20 years. Researchers found that even small changes in diet had a significant impact on long-term weight gain.


U.S. adults gain on average a half-kilogram, or about one pound, each year, and the kinds of food they at are important factors in that weight gain.

“It's very hard for the average person to notice that, but over 20 years it's 20 pounds [10 kg.] and so that’s really an enormous public health problem,” said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, lead researcher on the study by the Harvard School of Public Health. He says the foods most closely associated with weight gain are those highest in starch, and the worst offenders are potatoes - baked, boiled, mashed, or fried.  Eaten daily in whatever form, they can add more than half a kilogram [0.68 kg, or 1.5 lbs.] to an adult's weight every four years.

To control that weight over the long term, the researchers say it is more important to focus on eating right than on eating less, suggesting that the type of food matters more than a simple calorie-count.

“Foods which were strongly associated with weight gain were meats, refined grains, and then sweets.  Interestingly, refined grains like a bagel or white bread were similarly associated with weight gain as sweets,” Mozaffarian said.

Sugar-sweetened beverages and even one hundred percent fruit juices were also associated with weight gain.

Laura Jeffers, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic, did not take part in the study but believes it confirms what dieticians and nurtritionists have known for years about sweetened drinks:

“I basically always talk to patients about can we reduce the calories you’re getting from beverages? That’s one of the easiest things to do and this research shows that sugary beverages contribute to weight gain,” she said.

But the study findings also run counter to conventional wisdom.  Several high-calorie foods were found to lead to less weight gain when their consumption was increased. In particular nuts, whole grains, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables, were all associated with less weight gain over time.

The study also found that lifestyle factors such as daily physical activity, exercise, and sleep patterns are also important variables in any weight management program.

“The dangers are that if you don’t pay attention to these small aspects of lifestyle you may gain weight...and slowly, over time, and not notice it.  And that is what we have seen in the obesity epidemic.  On the other hand, if you pay attention and focus on the appropriate aspects of lifestyle you won’t gain that weight over time," Mozaffarian said.

The study showed that together with certain foods, long periods of television-watching and chronically getting too little sleep also contributed to long-term weight gain.

On the positive side, researchers were surprised to find that people who ate an extra daily serving of yogurt - regardless of its fat content - tended to lose nearly a half kilogram, or one pound, every four years.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs