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Aspartame (blue sweetener), calcium (as in one cup of yogurt), fiber, eating breakfast, peanuts, olive oil, avocadoes, vegan vegetarian, and whole wheat foods have all been associated with weight loss in various studies.  Meat, skipping breakfast, butter, margarine, fast-food, French fries, TV viewing, salt, and pop have all been found to be associated with obesity.  While the Atkins diet violates some of these principles, it has been found to be as good at losing weight as the Zone, Ornish, or Weight Watchers diets.  Unfortunately, there are numerous studies demonstrating more disease and early death to the heavy use of red meat and saturated fats.

Aspartame Helps Rats Lose Weight: The study found aspartame group 8% lower weight, 20% lower fat, and 34% lower leptin. Physiol Behav 2002 Feb 1-15;75(1-2):41-7; Aspartame decreases excretion of magnesium in rats. Magnes Res 2001 Sep;14(3):189-94

Aspartame Helps Humans Lose Weight: A Harvard multidisciplary weight loss program found obese women assigned to aspartame food group lost more weight initially and did better in keeping it off over 175 week study. Am J Clin Nutr 1997 Feb;65(2):409-18; Same conclusion in review article saying both short and long term studies available. Am J Clin Nutr 1991 Apr;53(4):872-8

Breakfast Associated with Half the Rate of Obesity: Among the 2,831 volunteers, white men and women who ate breakfast daily were only half as likely to be obese as were those who ate it seldom or never. Black men were 35 percent less likely, but for reasons the researchers could not explain, breakfast was not linked with lower weight in black women. Children’s Hospital, Boston 3/6/03 AP AHA meeting.

Breakfast Meat & Egg Fatting: Using data from 16,452 adults who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey including body mass index (BMI) measurements, age, gender, race and other demographic information and controlling for such factors as physical activity and smoking, people who ate ready-to-eat cereal, cooked cereal or quick breads for breakfast had significantly lower body mass index (BMI) measurements than those who ate meat and eggs or nothing at all. Breakfast skippers, a habit which has increased from 14% to 25% from 1965 to 1991, also had higher BMIs. Grace Block, J Amer College Nutr 8/1/03

Calcium Intake Associated With Lower Weight: A daily calcium supplement or an increase of one cup of milk or a small piece of cheese, about 300 milligrams of calcium, resulted in one-half inch less of abdominal fat and as much as two pounds less of body weight. Novotny, U Hawaii, April 13, ‘03 as part of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences program at the Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego. 

No Difference Between Popular Diets: Weight Loss Modest and Good for Heart: In a study of 160 obese adults randomly assigned to the Atkins, Zone, Weight Watchers, or Ornish for one year at an academic medical center in Boston, Mass, of overweight or obese (body mass index: mean, 35; range, 27-42) adults aged 22 to 72 years with known hypertension, weight loss was moderate and similar for all four diets: 4.6 pounds for Atkins, 7.0 pounds for Zone, 6.6 pounds for Weight Watchers, and 7.2 pounds for Ornish with dropouts ranging from 35% (Zone and Weight Watchers) to 50% (Atkins and Ornish). Decreasing levels of total/HDL cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and insulin were significantly associated with weight loss but with no significant difference between diets. Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction: a randomized trial. Dansinger ML, Gleason JA, et al. Tufts-New England Medical Center. JAMA. 2005 Jan 5;293(1):43-53

Diets: Four Diets All Similar Results: In a one year random assignment study of the Atkins (low carbohydrates), Zone (moderate carbohydrates), Ornish (low-fat vegetarian), or Weight Watchers (moderate fat) diet, dieters were told to follow the diet "to the best of their ability for two months. Patients were given official diet cookbooks and assigned to small group classes for diet education. For the remaining 10 months, the volunteers were told to follow their assigned diet "to whatever extent they wanted." The drop-out rate for each diet was 22% at two months and by 12 months half of the volunteers assigned to Atkins or Ornish had dropped out, as had 35% of those assigned to Weight Watchers or Zone diets. For those who stuck with the diet for 12 months, reductions in weight and Framingham risk score were 3.9% and 12.3% for Atkins (n=21; 52% completion), 6.2% and 6.6% for Ornish (n=20; 50% completion), 4.5% and 14.7% for Weight Watchers (n=26; 65% completion), and 4.6% and 10.5% for Zone (n=26; 65% completion). All diets resulted in significant (P < .05) weight loss from baseline and all but the Ornish diet (P = .013) resulted in significant reductions in the Framingham risk score. Ornish did best with lowering LDL and insulin but worst with raising HDL. AHA 2003 Scientific Sessions: Abstract 3535. Presented Nov. 12, 2003

Diets: Atkins Better Than Control Diet: 1 year study of just 63 adults. NEJM 5/28/03 p 2082. HDL up 11% vs. 1.6%. Fatty triglycerides down 17 per cent

Diets: Hi Carb Diet Successful: 34 adults, average age 66, with impaired glucose tolerance were randomized to a control diet ( 41% fat, 14% protein, 45% carbohydrates, and 7 g of fiber per 1,000 kcal) or a Hi Carb diet ( 18% fat, 19% protein, 63% carbohydrates, and 26 g of fiber per 1,000 kcal) or the Hi Carb diet plus endurance exercise four days per week, 45 minutes per day. Participants were allowed to eat as much as they wished. The three groups were similar in total food intake. Weight loss was none in controls, 10 pounds (P = .003) in the HI Carb plus exercise group, and 7pounds (P = .02) in the Hi Carb diet without exercise. Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:210-217

Dieting Girls Gain More Weight: 8203 girls and 6769 boys 9-14yo. 25.0% of the girls and 13.8% of the boys were infrequent dieters and 4.5% and 2.2% were frequent dieters. The percentage of dieters among the girls increased over the study period, Allison Field, Children's Hosp, Boston, Pediatrics 10/03 2003;112:900-906. Binge-eating was associated with attempts to control weight in both sexes. During the 3 years of follow-up, dieters gained more weight than nondieters. Among the girls, frequency of dieting was positively associated with increases in age- and sex-specific BMI. Recommends exercise and sustainable restrictions not related to severe calorie restriction.

Fast Food Makes You Fat and Diabetic: Eating in a fast-food restaurant more than twice a week dramatically increases the risk of diabetes because the enormous weight gain that accompanied fast food consumption increased insulin resistance. In the study of 3,000 adults ages 18-30, those who ate in a fast-food outlet more than twice a week gained an extra 10 pounds over the period, as compared with those eating at outlets on fewer occasions. David Ludwig, Children's Hospital. Boston. Daily Mirror 12/31/04. Ed: Obviously, its not the restaurant that is bad, but the foods chosen.  Hamburgers, pizza, white bread and white flour dough, cheese, trans-fats, French fries, salt, and soda pop have all been shown to be harmful.  Whole grain bread, nuts, beans and lentils, olive and canola oil, and fruits and vegetables aren't available, probably because they wouldn't be popular enough.

Fast Food + TV Triples Obesity, DM: Pereira of Boston's Children's Hospital 15-year follow up of 2,027 whites and 1,726 blacks between ages 18 and 30 in Chicago, Minneapolis, Birmingham, Ala. and Oakland, Calif. Fast food twice a week or more associated with 50% increase in obesity vs. less than weekly. Coupled with 2 ˝ hr/d TV, triples obesity vs. less than 1 ˝ hr/d. Meeting in Miami Beach of the American Heart Association 3/7/03.

Fast Food Restaurants, French Fries Associated with Obesity: 21% of 891 women 20-45yo reported eating > or = 3 fast food meals per week. Frequency of fast food restaurant use was associated with higher total energy intake, higher percentage fat energy, more frequent consumption of hamburgers, French fries and soft drinks, and less frequent consumption of fiber and fruit. Frequency of fast food restaurant use was higher among younger women, those with lower income, non-European ethnicity, greater body weight, lower dietary restraint, fewer low-fat eating behaviors, and greater television viewing. Over 3 y, increases in frequency of fast food restaurant use were associated with increases in body weight, total energy intake, percentage fat intake, intake of hamburgers, French fries and soft drinks, and with decreases in physical activity, dietary restraint and low-fat eating behaviors. Intake of several other foods, including fruits and vegetables, did not differ by frequency of fast food restaurant use. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2000 Oct;24(10):1353-9

Fat: Low Fat Diets Work, Maybe: Four meta-analyses of weight change occurring on low-fat diets where individuals eat as much as they want consistently demonstrate a highly significant weight loss of 3-4 kg in normal-weight and overweight subjects (P < 0.001). The more the reduction in percentage of fat, the more the weight loss. Obese individuals lost more weight: 4-5 kg. So far there is no evidence that low-glycemic index foods help weight loss. However, sugar in drinks is more likely to produce weight gain than solid sugar in foods. Wine may be more obesity-promoting than beer. Protein is more satiating and thermogenic than carbohydrates, and one intervention study has shown that an ad libitum low-fat diet where carbohydrate was replaced by protein produced more weight loss after 6 months (8.1 v. 5.9 kg). Denmark. Proc Nutr Soc 2002 May;61(2):299-309; Fat consumption within the range of 18-40% of energy has consistently had little, if any, effect on body fatness. A substantial decline in the U.S. percentage of energy from fat during the last two decades has corresponded with a massive increase in obesity, and similar trends are occurring in other affluent countries. Harvard, Obes Rev 2002 May;3(2):59-68; Ed: The percentage of fat is decreasing but the total caloric consumption has been increasing.

Fiber Increase Helps Lose Weight: When calorie intake is as desired, an additional 14 g/day fiber causes a 10% decrease in energy intake and body weight loss of 1.9 kg over 3.8 months. The impact of a high fiber diet was stronger on obese than normal weight people (obese reduced calories by 18% vs. 6% for normals without trying); body weight loss was 2.4 kg versus 0.8 kg). The changes occur both when the fiber is from naturally high-fiber foods and when it is from a fiber supplement. The mean dietary fiber intake is currently only 15 g/day ( half the Heart Association recommendation). Nutr Rev 2001 May;59(5):129-39; Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Ed: Anyone following my Recommendations for Healthy Living will be getting plenty of fiber.

Fructose Increased Triglycerides: 27 million Americans eat 17% or more calories from fructose. U Minn, John Bantle fed 24 men this amount for 6 weeks and found 1/3 increase in TGs. New Sci 5/3/03 pg 13.

Meals More Often, Breakfast, Home Eating Reduce Obesity: Study 500 20-70yos. After controlling for calorie intake and exercise, three eating habits were significantly associated with obesity. People who ate four or more times during the day were 45% less likely to be obese than people who ate three times a day or less. Eating fewer, larger meals may cause insulin to spike, which could cause more blood sugar to be stored as fat. Skipping breakfast was also associated with obesity. People who routinely skipped breakfast were more than four times as likely to be obese as those who ate breakfast regularly. Ma said. Skipping a meal lowers blood sugar, which triggers hunger. Eating in restaurants was the third factor that seemed to play a role in obesity. People who frequently ate breakfast or dinner in restaurants had about two times the risk of being obese. Yunsheng Ma, U Mass, American Journal of Epidemiology (Vol. 158, No. 1: 85-92) 7/24/03

Peanuts, Avocados, Olive Oil: Humans Lose Weight: Brigham and Women's Hospital concluded that people who consumed foods that were high in monounsaturated fats--olive oil, avocados, and peanut butter--were more likely to lose weight and keep it off than people following a more regimented, lower-fat diet. Compuserve 7/14/02

Protein from Animals in High Protein Diet (e.g. Atkins) May Hurt Kidneys: US researchers followed 1,624 women aged between 42 and 68 were monitored over 11 years. It was found 489 had a mild kidney problem. Controlled for age, weight, height, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and smoking and alcohol habits. In women who had normal kidney function, there was no link between high-protein diets and a decline in renal function. But those who already had a mild kidney problem who ate a high-protein diet, particularly one high in meat protein, showed some deterioration. Dairy or vegetable protein was not linked with worsening kidney function. Harvard, Knight, Ann Int Med 3/03

Rice/Bean Thin; Western Diet Fat: A Brazilian study, where 33% and overweight and 12% obese, found three major dietary patterns: mixed pattern when all food groups and items had about the same factor loading, except for rice and beans; one pattern that relies mainly on rice and beans, which was called a traditional diet; and a third pattern, termed a Western diet, where fat (butter and margarine) and added sugar (sodas) showed the highest positive loading for obesity while rice and beans were strong negative components. Among men, the Western diet, was definitely the worst. Obes Res 2002 Jan;10(1):42-8

Salt Decrease & Potassium Increase May Increase Insulin Sensitivity: Evidence presented suggest that there is an interdependent relationship between insulin sensitivity and salt sensitivity of blood pressure in Dahl-S rats, and it is suggested that supplementing the diet with potassium may exert a protective effect against both hypertension and insulin resistance in salt-sensitive individuals. Hypertension 2002 Jul;40(1):83-9

Soda Pop Causes Obesity: Controlling for TV, exercise, etc., daily pop and sugared fruit juices in kids is associated with 60% increase in obesity. No association with 100% fruit juices. Lancet 2/16/01

Soda Pop Increases Children's Weight: 8 week study found kids drinking over 16 ounces of pop per day didn’t decrease their own caloric intake and consumed 244 calories more and gained 1.5 pounds more. Included in pop category was sugared teas, sugared fruit drinks made from powder. Pediatrics 6/03 Levitsky, Cornell

Soda Pop: Sugary Soft Drinks Increased Weight Gain: Men gained 2.6kg in 10 weeks on sugared vs. artificial sweetener soft drinks. Arne Astrup, Copenhagen, Am J Clin Nutr 76:721, 10/02

Vegan Diet Lowest Weight; Fiber Good, High Protein Not: Of the four basic diets in 38000 Brits being followed, vegans had a BMI 2 full points less than meat eaters (22.49 vs 24.41) with vegans near ideal 22.0 Diet and body mass index in 38000 EPIC-Oxford meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. High protein (as percent energy) and low fiber intakes were the dietary factors most strongly and consistently associated with increasing BMI both between and within the diet groups. Spencer EA, Appleby PN, Davey GK, Key TJ. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Jun;27(6):728-34

Whole Wheat Diet Lost More Weight: 12 week study with a puffed whole wheat product. Moderately obese women lost 10 vs. 5 pounds on control diet. Use of an expanded-whole-wheat product in the reduction of body weight and serum lipids in obese females. Fordyce-Baum MK, Langer LM, Mantero-Atienza E, Crass R, Beach RS. Am J Clin Nutr 1989 Jul;50(1):30-6

Thomas E. Radecki, M.D., J.D.

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