- This past week,
experts convened at the annual meeting
of the North American
Association for the Study of Obesity in Charleston,
S.C., to discuss
the best strategies for winning this bulging battle.
- Experts reiterate what most
people know but secretly
hope isn't true: "There is no magic
bullet for the treatment of obesity
today in terms of
medications," said Dr. Sam Klein, a professor of
Washington University in St. Louis. "Right now, the cornerstone
for treating obesity is trying to change lifestyle by decreasing calorie
intake and increasing physical activity."
- This is the dreaded truth for
many dieters: Work is required.
A serious effort to modify eating
habits and pump up the exercise routine
must be made in order to lose
weight. Other researchers fleshed out this
treatment philosophy with
the following findings.
- The Sweet Truth
- Sugar intake really
has nothing to do with overweight,
according to two studies presented
at the conference. It's a common misconception
that obesity is caused
by an overdose of sweets, and doctors explained
- In one study,
researchers at Michigan State University
measured the body mass index
(weight divided by height) of almost 16,000
adults. Then they asked the
people to provide information on the amount
of sugar, fat,
carbohydrates and calorie intake.
- Obese men and women in the
study consumed not only fewer
total calories than their thinner
counterparts, but had a lower percentage
of calories from sugars and
carbohydrates. They did, however, consume a
higher percentage of their
calories from fat.
- Researchers concluded that fat and sugars work like a
As fat intake rose, so did the BMI. But as sugar intake went up,
Georgetown University, researchers examined data from
a USDA survey of
how closely people follow the food guide pyramid.
- "Added sugars have a
minimal negative effect on
consumption of most of the food groups and
nutrients," reported lead
researchers Dr. Maureen Storey and Dr.
Rich Forshee. However, they found,
added alcohol did have a significant
negative impact on diet quality.
- The importance of a change in lifestyle was highlighted
two different studies.
- In the first one, conducted by researchers at Brown
School of Medicine, men and women logged on to an
where they submitted daily diaries listing their
calorie and fat intakes
as well as the exercise they had completed.
They could get support for
their weight loss through an online bulletin
board and once a week, a behavior
therapist would give them e-mail
- After just three months, these subjects lost an average
pounds and shed 2.5 inches off their waistlines, while the control
group - which did not have access to the support and feedback - lost only
three pounds and 1 inch of waistline on average.
- Similarly, a group of obese
women who participated in
a behavior-modification group in addition to
taking the weight loss drug
Meridia lost more weight after six months
than those who just used the
- These women, who took part in a
study conducted by researchers
at the University of Pennsylvania School
of Medicine, were assigned to
group behavior-modification sessions.
They also were encouraged to consume
1,200 to 1,500 calories per day,
burn about 1,500 calories per week in
physical activity and keep
records of their food intake.
- This added component of the program more than doubled
the size of participants' weight loss. "Taking a dual approach (of
behavior modification and medication) is better than a single
said lead researcher Thomas Wadden.
- You've Got
to Move It, Move It
- An increasing in exercise does
lead to weight loss, experts
agree " as long as it,s accompanied
by decreases in calories.
- But even if picking up exercise doesn,t lead to dropped
pounds, it makes a major difference in a person,s health, said Dr. Steven
Blair of the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas. Blair reviewed several
studies that show how exercise provides health benefits for overweight
- "Overweight or even obese individuals who are fit
much lower death rate than normal-weight individuals who are unfit,"