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  • The Hawaiian Diet: People lose 17 lbs in three weeks

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    Friday, October 22, 2010 6:45 am Email this article
    Twenty native Hawaiians lost an average of 17.2 pounds in three weeks or 6.4 percent of their body weight by following a traditional Hawaiian diet according to a 1991 study (Shintani et al, 1991). Range of Weight Loss

    Range of weight loss: 4 to 33 lbs

    The range of weight loss was from 4 pounds up to 33 pounds.


    Diet Composition

    Diet Composition: 7% fat, 15% protein, 78% complex carbs

    The diet is very low in fat (7 percent), high in complex carbohydrates (78 percent) and moderate in protein (15 percent).

    The amount of food was not limited. Subjects were told to eat until they were full.


    Calorie Intake

    Calorie intake fell from 2594 to 1569 per dayt

    The average intake decreased by more than 1000 calories per day falling from 2594 calories per day to 1569 calories.



    Cholesterol fell from 222 mg/dl to 191 mg/dl

    In addition to the weight loss the average total cholesterol dropped from 222 mg/dL to 191 mg/dL.



    HDL fell from 38 mg/dl to 35 mg/dl; LDL 147 to 130

    HDL and LDL cholesterol also dropped from 38 to 35 mg/dL and 147 to 130 mg/dL, respectively. The drop in HDL was not statistically significant.


    Blood Pressure

    Blood Pressure fell from 134/84 to 122/75 mmHg

    The average blood pressure dropped from 134/84 to 122/75 mm Hg.


    Blood Sugar

    Blood Sugar fell from 162 mg/dL to 124 mg/dL

    Fasting blood sugar was lower after three weeks having fallen from 162 mg/dL to 124 mg/dL.



    Subjects: 20 obese men and women

    The study included ten men and ten women with an average weight of 262 pounds and body mass index of 39.6.


    Rate Of Weight Loss

    Rate of Weight Loss: 5.7 lbs per week

    The average rate of weight loss of 5.7 pounds per week is greater than other studies which have used low energy density diets which have averaged from 0.5 to 1.5 pounds per week according to the authors.

    They suggested that this may be due to The Hawaiian Diet being lower in fat than in the other studies (7 percent versus 15-23 percent, respectively), higher in carbohydrates, early water loss due the diet being low in sodium, and the participants being heavier to start with.


    Food Eaten

    Food Eaten: All raw or steamed

    The selection of foods that were eaten included taro (a starchy root-like potato), poi (a mashed form of taro), sweet potato, yams, breadfruit, greens (fern shoots and leaves of taro), fruit, seaweed, fish, and chicken.

    All of the foods were served either raw or steamed. The amount of chicken and fish were limited to 5 to 7 ounces per day.


    Calorie Density

    Calorie Density: 0.8 calories per gram

    The energy density of The Hawaiian Diet is low containing only 0.83 calories per gram of food.

    Adherence to the diet was excellent, however this may have been due to strict monitoring by health professions according to the authors of the paper.


    Long-term Weight Loss

    Long-term Weight Loss: 12-18 lbs loss maintained for up to seven years

    After the initial study was performed additional groups were studied and followed over the past nine years.

    The amount of weight loss that was maintained for subjects who had been on the diet from one to 7.5 years was

    The follow-up was for an average roughly three years and included 82 people.

    This amount of long-term maintained weight loss is better than in most studies.

    In a five year follow-up of a study which included the use of a very-low-calorie diet plus behavior modification 27 percent maintained a weight loss of at least 11 pounds and 9 percent maintained a weight loss of at least 22 pounds (Wadden et al, 1989).


    Previous Study

    Previous study found low-fat best for maintenance

    A previous study found that eating a low-fat ad lib diet helped subjects maintain an average weight loss that was three times greater than those who counted calories two years after initially losing weight (17.8 pounds vs 5.5 pounds, respectively) (Toubro et al, 1997).


    Two-thirds weighed less

    Two-thirds of patients weighed less

    Two-thirds of patients (55 of 82) weighed less during follow-up than they did when the study began.

    Half (43 of 82) weighed at least 10 pounds less than they did at the start of the study, one-third (24 of 82) weighed at least 20 pounds less than at the start, and one-sixth (15 of 82) weighed at least 30 pounds less than when they started.

    The largest amount of weight loss was 174 pounds in one person and 117 pounds in another.

    The greatest amount of weight gain was 31 pounds.


    Shintani TT; Hughes CK; Beckham S; O’Connor HK. Obesity and cardiovascular risk intervention through the ad libitum feeding of traditional Hawaiian diet. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1991 Jun, 53(6 Suppl):1647S-1651S.

    Shintani T; Beckham S; Tang J; O’Connor HK; Hughes C. Waianae Diet Program: long-term follow-up. Hawaii Medical Journal, 1999 May, 58(5):117-22.

    Toubro S, Astrup A. Randomised comparison of diets for maintaining obese subjects’ weight after major weight loss: ad lib, low fat, high carbohydrate diet v fixed energy intake. Bmj, 1997 Jan 4, 314(7073):29-34.

    Wadden TA; Sternberg JA; Letizia KA; Stunkard AJ; Foster GD. Treatment of obesity by very low calorie diet, behavior therapy, and their combination: a five-year perspective. International Journal of Obesity, 1989;13 Suppl 2:39-46.

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