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Fruit, veg and nuts aid weight loss

28th June 2011

Researchers in the United States have found that eating more healthy foods is a better way to lose weight over the long term than restricting intake.

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According to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) team, cutting out fizzy drinks and white bread, rice and potatoes are among the best strategies to promote weight loss or prevent weight gain.

Sweets, breakfast cereals low in fibre or high in sugar and other carbohydrates tended to contribute to weight gain.

An average adult will put on a pound of weight annually if they don't alter their diet.

The team advises people to focus more on eating foods which have had a minimum of processing, like fruits and vegetables.

Whole grains, nuts and yogurts are also a good way to give a sense of fullness without piling on the pounds.

Potatoes were among the worst culprits for aiding weight gain, the team said.

The researchers analysed data from three long-term health studies in the United States, including more than 50,000 women and 22,500 men who were free of obesity or chronic disease at the start of the study.

They gained an average of 3.35 pounds in each four-year period of the study, adding up to a weight gain of around 17 pounds across the two decades of the study.

Potato crisps were associated with the clearest contribution to weight gain, with people who ate them daily weighing 1.69 pounds more after four years than those who did not.

Meanwhile, people who drank sugar-sweetened beverages put on a pound every four years compared with those who did not.

However, increased quantities of certain foods seemed to be linked to weight loss, rather than gain.

Vegetables, whole grains, fruit, nuts and yogurt were all associated with losses of less than a pound over four years, if consumed in additional quantities.

The researchers concluded that focusing only on total calories may not be the most useful way to consume fewer calories than one expends.

Tracking the amount of fat, energy density or sugar could also give the wrong impression of weight loss success.

The most important factor overall was the quality of diet, they said.

 

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