Ditch the fancy diets, just cut down on fat: Eating healthily is more reliable way to lose weightCutting back on butter, cheese, cakes and crisps could see you lose up to three-and-a-half poundsPeople who cut back on fat rather than dieting see results in six months
00:26 GMT, 7 December 2012
Lose inches: Forget the diet says a new study, just cut back on fatty foods
Forget about the diet – just cut down on the fat, claim scientists.
Trimming back on butter and cheese, cutting out biscuits, cakes and crisps and swapping to low-fat milk and yoghurt could help you lose three and a half pounds, says a new study.
It shows that people can get slimmer without going on a diet in as little as six months – and the more fat you stop eating, the more weight is lost.
New research from the University of East Anglia (UEA) found that exchanging fatty foods for lower fat alternatives results in weight loss, slimmer waistlines and a drop in levels of bad cholesterol.
The results prove for the first time that weight loss is possible simply by choosing foods lower in fat despite a plethora of recent publicity extolling the benefits of low-carbohydrate and no-carb diets.
The study, which pooled results from 33 clinical trials involving 74,000 people, is published in the British Medical Journal (must credit) Dr Lee Hooper from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, who led the study, said the regime led to consistent lower weight for at least seven years.
She said ‘The weight reduction that we found when people ate less fat was remarkably consistent – we saw it in almost every trial. Those who cut down more on fat, lost more weight.
‘The effect isn’t dramatic, like going on a diet. The research specifically looked at people who were cutting down on fat, but didn’t aim to lose weight – so they were continuing to consume a normal amount of food.
‘What surprised us was that they did lose weight, their Body Mass Index decreased and their waists became slimmer. On top of this, they kept their weight down over at least seven years.’
‘There isn’t a specific goal, the more fat you cut down, the more your weight falls.’
The systematic review included results from 33 randomised controlled trials, lasting six months to eight years, involving 73,589 men, women and children with varying states of health.
Comparisons were made between those eating less fat than usual and those eating their usual amount of fat which ranged from a quarter to half of everyday calories.
The effect on Body Mass Index (BMI) – a score showing whether people are overweight or obese – and waistline was measured after at least six months.
The results show that eating less fat reduces body weight by 1.6kg (three and a half pounds), cuts BMI scores and waist circumference by 0.5cm (0.2 ins).
All these effects were in trials in which weight loss was not the intended outcome, suggesting that they occur in people with normal diets. The weight loss happened quickly and was maintained over at least seven years.
Dr Hooper said the study did not attempt to assess the best kind of fat to ditch, although saturated fats are regarded as having a worse effect on health.
Fatty: Cutting back on fatty foods such as cheese could see you lose three-and-a-half pounds
She said ‘Cutting down on saturated fat reduces our risk of heart disease and strokes, so the healthiest way to cut down on fat is to cut down on saturated fats.
‘This means having low fat milk and yogurt, cutting down on butter and cheese, and cutting the fat off meat.
‘Most importantly have fruit instead of fatty snacks like biscuits, cake and crisps. And remember, this isn’t a diet, so don’t take it to extremes, but work out a way of eating that you can stick to permanently.
“Keeping healthy is not just about fat and weight – but cutting down on fat, especially saturated fat, is a great start.
‘Being physically active, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, and drinking plenty of fluid also help to keep us healthy. We just need to get in the habit of doing these things’ she added.
Cut down: Swapping cake for a lower fat alternative results in a slimmer waistline and lower cholesterol
The study was commissioned by experts at the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its findings are likely to become part of global recommendations on nutrition.
The research is particularly important because being overweight or obese increases the risk of many cancers, coronary heart disease and stroke.
Co-author Prof Carolyn Summerbell, from Durham University, said ‘A healthy diet is a way of eating that people can sustain over time. That’s the trick, to find a comfortable way to eat that you can stick to for life which helps you maintain your weight. Cutting down on fat will help.’