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Is 'Slow and Steady' Weight Loss Really the Best Approach?

Researchers suggest some overweight people might get better results from more aggressive dieting

FRIDAY, Oct. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- An Australian study casts doubt on the notion that a more gradual approach to weight loss is always the most effective route to take. The findings were published online Oct. 16 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

The study included 200 obese adults randomly assigned to either a 36-week gradual weight-loss program in which they consumed 500 fewer calories per day, or a 12-week rapid weight-loss regimen that featured a very-low-calorie diet of 450 to 800 calories a day. Overall, 81 percent of those in the rapid weight-loss group and 50 percent of those in the gradual weight-loss group lost more than 12.5 percent of their body weight. After the weight loss, the participants were placed on a weight maintenance diet for three years.

The study authors found that people in both groups regained about 71 percent of their lost weight by the end of three years, regardless of how fast they had slimmed down. There are a number of possible reasons for the study findings, according to the researchers. Limited carbohydrate intake of a very-low-calorie diet may cause a greater satiety, and lead to a reduction in food intake, by inducing ketosis; or speedy weight loss may motivate people to stick with their diet and achieve greater amounts of weight loss.

"Clinicians should bear in mind that different weight loss approaches might be suitable for different patients in the management of clinical obesity, and that efforts to curb the speed of initial weight loss might hinder their ultimate weight loss success," Corby Martin and Kishore Gadde, from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., write in an accompanying commentary.

One study and one editorial author disclosed financial ties to the weight-loss industry.

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