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"I've been battling my weight all my life. I just needed more structure," said Mayer, of Brockton, Mass., who works with the elderly.
Mayer was assigned to a low-fat, high-protein diet with 1,400 calories a day. She started measuring her food and went back to the gym. The 5-foot Mayer started at 179 pounds and dropped 50 pounds to 129 pounds by the end of the study. She now weighs 132 and wants to shed a few more pounds.
Another study volunteer, Rudy Termini, a 69-year-old retiree from Cambridge, Mass., credits keeping a food diary for his 22-pound success. Termini said before participating in the study he would wolf down 2,500 calories a day. But sticking to an 1,800-calorie high-fat, average protein diet meant no longer eating an entire T-bone steak for dinner. Instead, he now eats only a 4-ounce steak.
"I was just oblivious to how many calories I was having," said the 5-foot-11-inch Termini, who dropped from 195 to 173 pounds. "I really used to just eat everything and anything in sight."
Dr. David Katz of the Yale Prevention Research Center and author of several weight control books, said the results should not be viewed as an endorsement of fad diets that promote one nutrient over another.
The study compared high-quality, heart-healthy diets and "not the gimmicky popular versions," said Katz, who had no role in the study. Some popular low-carb diets tend to be low in fiber and have a relatively high intake of saturated fat, he said.
Other experts were bothered that the dieters couldn't keep the weight off even with close monitoring and a support system.
"Even these highly motivated, intelligent participants who were coached by expert professionals could not achieve the weight losses needed to reverse the obesity epidemic," Martijn Katan of Amsterdam's Free University wrote in an accompanying editorial.
On the Net:
New England Journal: http://www.nejm.org/
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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