Diets are hard. Some foods you’re allowed to have, some you’re not. Some foods you can indulge in as much as you want, others you can only consume in small quantities. Some foods you don’t like might also end up on your menu just so you can keep a balanced diet. And if you’re a fussy eater, good luck finding a way of getting all of these things to work together.
It’s hard enough for yourself to figure out a diet that kind of works for you, what change does someone else have of putting one together? But a new study has found that those looking to lose a few pounds might want to let someone else dictate what they eat.
A group of researchers split patients at the Veterans Affairs medical center in North Carolina in two. Members of one group were allowed to choose their own diet plan, while members of the other group were assigned a diet plan randomly. The results showed that those who were allowed to choose which diet they wanted to follow lost less weight than the others.
Dr. William Yancy Jr., co-author and research associate in the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care at Duke University, gave a statement saying that while providing subjects with a choice did not help them lose more weight, statistically speaking, the difference in weight loss between the two (2) groups was not that big.
He went on to explain that “The weight loss was similar between the two groups. It’s just that the direction of effect was not even in the expected direction”. The initial hypothesis was that by allowing people to pick a diet that they liked, they’d be better at sticking to it.
For their study, Dr. Yancy Jr. and his team looked at 207 people for 48 weeks, from May 2011 to June 2012. The participants all received both group and individual counseling during this time. They had to have a body mass index (BDI) of 30 or more in order to participate, and the average age was 55. Roughly three quarters of them were men, and about half of them were African American.
At the end of the 48 weeks, the subjects who had been allowed to choose their preferred diet lost 12.6 pounds (5.7 kilograms) on average, while the the subjects who had been randomly assigned a diet lost 14.7 pounds (6.7 kg) on average.
Dr. Yancy’s working theory is that the subjects in the first group lost less weight because they picked the died that included more of the foods that they liked. This in turn made it harder for them to scale down on the amount of food that they ate.
However he also believes that people adhere better to a diet that has foods that they like. This raised an interesting question – could a diet that contains foods a person prefers be a better option in the long-run? After all, the study did not explore how successful subjects were in maintaining their weight loss long-term.
Dr. Yancy admited that this is a very good point, but he also shared that the most successful diet for some people may involve having to try new foods.
Image Source: mentalhealth.org.uk