In a series of three separate studies looking at how changes in multiple dietary and other lifestyle factors relate to long-term weight gain, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that modest changes in specific foods and beverages, physical activity, TV-watching, and sleep duration were strongly linked with long-term weight gain. Changes in diet, in particular, had the strongest associations with differences in weight gain.
London Nutritionist from Foods for Life Nutrition and Health Consultancy Yvonne Bishop-Weston said today
"It's marvelous to finally see another piece of solid research to add more scientific weight to what nutritionists have known for years but can't prove because we can't afford a double blind placebo trial of thousands of people and then subject it to meta analysis. We know because we see dramatic results in our clinics where others have failed. There needs to be more scientific study and solid research on preventative medicine to silence the whinging critics of the quackology obscessed Dr Do-Littles.
The status quo of over-simplistic rhetoric of calories in = calories out isn't even bio-chemically logical. Of course 100kcal of vegetables full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein, antioxidants and essential fats is going to have a different consequence on the body than 100kcal of doughnut or chips fried in partially hydrogenated trans fat. It's not rocket science, it's common sense - that's sadly something lacking in some of the high profile media vigilante nutritionist bashers.
The study appears in the June 23, 2011, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Read the study.
"For example, the foods associated with the greatest weight gain over the 20-year study period included potato chips (for each one increased daily serving, +1.69 lb more weight gain every 4 years), other potatoes (1.28 lb), sugar-sweetened beverages (1.00 lb), unprocessed meats (0.95 lb), and processed meats (0.93 lb). Of note, several foods associated with less weight gain when their consumption was actually increased, including vegetables (−0.22 lb), whole grains (−0.37 lb), fruits (−0.49 lb), nuts (−0.57 lb) and yogurt (−0.82 lb). Evaluating all changes in diet together, participants in the lower 20% of dietary changes gained nearly 4 lbs more each 4 years than those in the top 20% —an amount equivalent to the average weight gain in the population overall.We look forward to more studies like this such as PCRM Research on Nutrition
For diet, focusing only on total calories may not be the most useful way to consume fewer calories than one expends, say the researchers. Other yardsticks, such as content of total fat, energy density, or sugars, could also be misleading. Rather, they found that eating more healthful foods and beverages—focusing on overall dietary quality—was most important.
The most useful dietary metrics for preventing long-term weight gain appeared to be:
Focus on improving carbohydrate quality by eating less liquid sugars (e.g. soda) and other sweets, as well as fewer starches (e.g. potatoes) and refined grains (e.g. white bread, white rice, breakfast cereals low in fiber, other refined carbohydrates).
Focus on eating more minimally processed foods (e.g. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, yogurt) and fewer highly processed foods (e.g. white breads, processed meats, sugary beverages).