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Mediterranean dieters kept weight off for six years

  • Los Angeles Times
  • Published Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, at 10:08 p.m.

Moderately obese people who ate the Mediterranean diet lost more weight than groups of people who followed either a low-fat or a low-carbohydrate diet, researchers reported.

The Mediterranean group weighed almost seven pounds less than they weighed six years earlier. In the low-carb group, the total was 3.7 pounds, and the low-fat group was 1.3 pounds. The Mediterranean diet is one based on the eating habits of people who live in that part of the world — high in produce, and including olive oil and fish.

The researchers, in a letter published earlier this month in the New England Journal of Medicine, collected data from a two-year work-based program called the Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial. They randomly assigned 322 moderately obese people, most of them men, to the three diet categories. The participants were given education assistance about the diets.

After two years, the average weight loss was 6.4 pounds in the low-fat group, almost 10 pounds in the Mediterranean group and 10.3 in the low-carb group. At that point, 259 people remained in the study.

After six years, 67 percent had continued with their original diet, 11 percent had switched to another diet, and 22 percent were not dieting.

The researchers, led by Dan Schwartzfuchs of the Nuclear Research Center Negev in Israel, concluded that the workplace intervention “had long-lasting, favorable post-intervention effects, particularly among participants receiving the Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets, despite a partial regain of weight.”

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