Do Diets Work?

Does weight loss lead to long-term health benefits?

Did you resolve to lose weight this New Year? If so, you are not alone. “Lose weight” is the #1 New Year’s resolution for 2014. Many people link weight loss with health improvements. In fact, “Stay fit and healthy” is the #5 most popular resolution. These resolutions are supported by the weight loss industry, which has a financial interest in “helping” you make weight loss resolutions. In January we are bombarded with advertisements for diet plans and various weight loss methods. In addition to the media, people who are overweight or obese are often encouraged by their physicians to lose weight through dieting as a means of improving health. Given the emphasis on weight loss for health improvements, I think that it is important to ask: does losing weight actually lead to long-term health benefits?

Recently, a group of researchers tackled this question. In “Long-Term Effects of Dieting: Is Weight Loss Related to Health?” Tomiyama, Ahlstrom, and Mann (2013) explored the relationship between dieting, weight loss, and health outcomes. The researchers reviewed 21 previously published randomized controlled trials that examined weight loss diets with a follow-up period of at least 2 years. They investigated health outcomes including total cholesterol, triglycerides, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and fasting blood glucose.

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