Little difference among diet plans’ long-term effectiveness, study shows

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08 Mar 2018 --- Although different popular diets can help some people achieve modest weight loss with potential improvement in health risks, maintaining long-term weight loss remains challenging, and individuals with obesity should expect to regain weight when they stop treatment, according to a Scientific Statement by the Endocrine Society. The statement's authors examined the latest scientific evidence on a variety of diets, commercial diet plans such as Weight Watchers, exercise, obesity medications and types of bariatric surgery. Based on a review of more than 400 studies and peer-reviewed articles on obesity, the experts found all of the weight loss interventions had a high degree of variability when it came to effectiveness.

The authors found the Mediterranean Diet and DASH diet provide demonstrated benefits for improving cardiovascular disease, and in lower calorie versions may be beneficial for weight loss.

Given the number of diets, medications and surgical procedures available to treat obesity, the best approach for each individual depends on genetics, health and how well they can adhere to a particular regimen, the statement's authors conclude. 

“Individual weight loss approaches worked well for some people and not for others,” says George A. Bray, M.D., of Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., who chaired the task force that developed the Scientific Statement. 

“Currently, we have limited genetic and other information to predict which intervention will work for a given individual. This demonstrates just how complex the problem of severe obesity is.”

Surgical approaches tended to lead to greater and longer lasting weight loss than other treatment options, the authors found.

Many consumers turn to dietary supplements, which are not evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the statement authors. There is little scientific evidence to show these supplements can effectively support weight loss or even that they are safe. Having the FDA oversee dietary supplements and holding these products to higher safety and efficacy standards would benefit public health, they add.

Meanwhile, a recent study, published in the journal Nutrients, has noted that three popular weight loss diet plans do not provide recommended levels of essential micronutrients, such as vitamin D, B12 and calcium.

The study, “Micronutrient Gaps in Three Commercial Weight-Loss Diet Plans,” was conducted by The Nature's Bounty Co. in collaboration with its Scientific Advisory Council member, Dr. J. Thomas Brenna of Cornell University. 

Data affirmed previous studies that micronutrient deficits are prevalent in weight-loss diet plans. To fill nutrient gaps among dieters, the addition of micronutrient rich foods or appropriate dietary supplements should be considered to reduce the risk of micronutrient deficiencies among dieters.

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