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  • Portion size, eating away from home, and high-energy dense foods increase calorie intake

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Friday, February 11, 2005 4:56 am Email this article
    "Increasing portion size, eating away from home, and consuming a variety of high-energy dense foods appear to increase energy intake," notes a paper from the Mayo Clinic. The larger the serving, the more we eat

    Research has found that the more food that people are served, the more they eat, the author notes. People tend to eat what they are served.

    Portion size has increased

    He also notes that portion sizes have increased in the home as well as in restaurants and packaged foods.

    More meals away from home increases body weight and body fat

    “More meals are eaten away from home than in past years, and eating in restaurants is associated with increased energy intake, body weight, and body fatness,” according to the author.

    Skipping breakfast associated with obese

    “Skipping breakfast increases the risk of obesity,” the author notes.

    Snacking increases calorie intake, but more frequent eating associated with lower risk of obesity

    “More frequent snacking is associated with higher [calorie] intake. However, an increased number of eating episodes per day has also been associated with a lower risk of obesity, suggesting that the types of foods consumed are more important than the number of times spent eating,” he continues.

    Dr. Gullo agrees: Eat every 3-4 hours to prevent cravings, but avoid trigger foods

    Comment: Stephen Gullo, PhD, author of “Thin Tastes Better”, noted this.

    Dr. Gullo said that eating every 3 to 4 hours per day can prevent cravings, however, he also says that people have trigger foods that cause them to overeat, and refers to the F-Q Principle, saying that increasing the frequency of these foods—which could be snacks for many people—leads to an increase in quantity.

    Very low calorie diets cause rapid weight loss, but no better long-term

    Very-low calorie diets cause rapid weight loss, but long-term weight loss is no better than with behavior modification alone the author notes.

    Meal replacements are effective

    Meal replacements, such as SlimFast shakes, which contain 200-400 calories and are nutritionally complete, cause more weight loss than placebo after three months and one year the article notes.

    Diet more potent than exercise for weight loss

    Although exercise is important for preventing weight gain or maintaining weight loss, diet is more important when it comes to losing weight, the authors notes.


    Comment. I agree wholeheartedly.

    I find it misleading when I hear the news say, “Losing weight is just a matter of diet and exercise.” It makes them sound equal. They are not.

    I believe that diet is ten times more effective than exercise at helping people lose weight. I say this only because it seems tens times easier to reduce calorie intake by 500 to 1000 calories per day than for someone to have the discipline or stamina to walk far enough each day to burn an equal number of calories—an additional 5 to 10 miles per day.

    I also say this because studies with women have shown that diet alone causes nearly as much weight loss as diet plus exercise.

    There was a television show on several weeks ago in which physical trainers were trying to help very obese people—who probably weighed 300 pounds or more—lose weight by putting them on an exercise routine.

    He had them running and rock climbing. I disagree with this approach.

    I can’t imagine more than one person in a thousand ever continuing this routine after the trainer and television cameras go away. I imagine that this might even form a negative association with exercise, and possibly even may cause them to feel helpless about losing weight.

    I would much rather see them focus 90 percent of their efforts on diet, nutritional education, and the reason they want to lose weight, and the remaining 10 percent on exercise.

    I am not saying exercise is not important. It is. It is important for good health and important for weight maintenance.

    I just think they should focus most of their time on what is most important.

    An interesting study a few years ago found that in order to minimize weight loss, women needed to do a minimum of 35 minutes per day of vigorous exercise or 80 minutes per day of moderate exercise. That is a lot of exercise for most people.


    Hensrud D. Diet and obesity. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2004 Mar, 20(2):119-24.


    Donald D. Hensrud, MD, M.P.H.
    Division of Preventive Medicine
    W12B Mayo Clinic
    Rochester, MN 55905, USA
    507 538 1703 phone
    507 284 0909 fax
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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