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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More