Diet Proves 'Eat More, Weigh Less' Can Work

June 8, 2007

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Eating more water-rich foods, especially fruits and vegetables, helped women drop more pounds than simply moderating fat intake.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., June 8 -- Eating more water-rich foods, especially fruits and vegetables, fats helped women drop more pounds than simply moderating fat intake.

That's what Barbara J. Rolls, Ph.D, and colleagues at Penn State University, here, found when they put 97 obese women (body mass index in kg/m2 from 30 to 40) on diets.

The women, ranging in age from 20 to 60, were randomly assigned to groups that were counseled either to reduce their fat intake or to reduce their fat intake and increase their intake of water-rich foods, which are low in energy density (kcal/g). They were given no calorie restrictions.

Both weight-loss strategies were accompanied by an increase in physical activity focused on walking with a pedometer, and both were successful, but women on the low energy-density diet lost more weight, despite eating more food, by weight, and eating at will, the authors wrote in the June 1 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Their findings support the idea that people who eat nutritionally balanced diets that are high in water content will feel fuller longer, and thus have a greater chance of losing weight, the authors wrote.

"Such diets are known to reduce the intake of calories in the short term, but their role in promoting weight loss over the long term was not clear," said Dr. Rolls, a professor of nutritional sciences.

Women in each group received the same amount of instruction on fat reduction, behavior change, physical activity, and the principles of their diets, and within each group they were taught to make food choices that were reduced in energy density and appropriate in portion size.

"Neither group was given daily limits for energy or fat intake; the subjects were instructed to eat ad libitum amounts of food while following the principles of their assigned diets," the authors noted.

Overall the 71 patients who completed the one-year study (35 in the reduced fats plus fruits and vegetables group, and 36 in the reduced fat alone group) had significant decreases in body weight (P

The authors acknowledged that there were no significant between-group differences in reported energy intake that corresponded with the differences in weight loss, which could be explained by wide variations in daily energy intake. They also noted the possibility of reporting bias by the patients, although they pointed out that the degree of underreporting was likely to be similar between the groups.