60-Second Science

Diets Don't Work

A meta-analysis from UCLA finds that--no surprise--most dieters gain the weight back and more in the long term.

Here’s a story that can hardly be called news, but it bears repeating.  Diets do not work.  This latest revelation’s according to a report in the April issue of the journal American Psychologist.  Researchers at UCLA did a meta analysis, a study of 31 other long-term studies.  They think this research included every study that followed people on diets for two to five years.  And they found that the majority of people regain all weight lost and then some.  And that they would have been better off in the long run simply maintaining their heavier weight rather than stress the body by losing it and gaining it back. 

Another four-year study of 19,000 healthy older men found that the single biggest predictor of weight gain was if a man had been on a diet at some point in the past. 

So what actually does work for weight loss and long term maintenance?  Surprise—moderate eating and regular exercise.  When I asked a friend of mine how he had lost 50 pounds, he said he’d been on the ELFs diet.  What’s the ELFs diet, I asked.  His response: “Eat less food, stupid.”

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