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This article is from the In-Depth Report The Science of Weight Loss
60-Second Science

Diet Diary Doubles Weight Loss

Dieters who wrote down everything they ate had twice the weight loss of other people following the same diet. Karen Hopkin reports

[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

Dear diary: Today I ate three carrot sticks while I fantasized about eating carrot cake. Alright, alright, I ate three pieces of carrot cake, and never once considered an actual carrot. How am I ever going to lose that last 10 pounds? Well, new research shows that keeping a diary—a food diary—can help. According to a study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine*, people who write down everything they eat each day lose twice as much as those who don’t.

Nearly 1,700 people participated in the study. They were asked to follow a heart-healthy diet, full of fruits and veggies and low-fat or nonfat dairy. They attended weekly group sessions and were told to engage in moderate exercise for half-an-hour a day. After six months, nearly two-thirds of the participants had lost at least nine pounds. But the real surprise came from the food logs: those who simply kept track of what they consumed lost twice as much as those who failed to fess up. So next time you’re tempted by the clarion call of the carrot cake, stop to consider how it would look in your diary—not to mention on your hips.

—Karen Hopkin

*Note (7/11/08): The name of the journal cited by the speaker has been corrected.

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