Keeping a food diary helps #postmenopusal women lose #weight

A dietary weight loss intervention study has shown that dietary self-monitoring, such as keeping a food diary, preparing meals at home, and eating meals at regular intervals may improve 12-month weight loss among postmenopausal overweight-to-obese women.

All these behaviours were shown to cut calorie intake; which is the most important consideration when trying to lose weight. Participants were aged 50 to 75 years. They were part of a year-long, 4-group, randomized controlled weight loss trial called the Nutrition and Exercise for Women Study. Participants in that original trial were randomly assigned to 4 different groups: diet alone, exercise alone, exercise plus diet, or control. For the purpose of this ancillary study, only the women from the diet-alone and diet-plus-exercise groups were evaluated.

The women completed questionnaires regarding dietary intake, eating-related weight-control strategies, self-monitoring behaviors, and meal patterns. To determine dietary change from the beginning to the end of the study, participants also completed a 120-item food-frequency questionnaire.

Results showed that average percentage weight loss was 10.7%. Further, completing more food diaries was associated with a greater percentage of weight loss and was deemed to be the most effective behaviour tool for weight loss. Weight loss was less in women who missed meals and in those who ate out for lunch once a week or more. Eating out often at all meal times was associated with less weight loss, but the strongest association was observed with lunch.

The researchers said that the mechanism for this was not completely clear, but skipping meals or fasting might lead to a greater attraction to high-calorie foods and therefore up calorie intake overall. They also said that skipping meals might cluster together with other behaviors; e.g. the lack of time and effort spent on planning and preparing meals may lead a person to skip meals and/or eat out more.

To keep a food journal, participants were advised to: * Be honest and record everything consumed.

* Be accurate by measuring portions and reading labels.

* Be complete, including details of food preparation and any toppings or condiments added.

* Be consistent, always carrying the food diary or using a smartphone diet-tracking application.

 

J Academy Nutrition Dietetics. Published online July 13, 2012.

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