9 December 2011
Arguments continue over what is the best dietary balance to achieve weight control in people with obesity, or those in danger of it. Aside from a few minor groups, most people accept that total energy consumed in foods and drinks must be reduced relative to energy expended, for weight to be lost.
However, the optimum balance of nutritional components (i.e. the ratio of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates) and other dietary factors within a weight control diet has been contentious. Much of this uncertainty arises because studies so far have been small in size and much too short to yield persuasive results. To try to resolve this, a multinational team of European researchers initiated the Diogenes (Diet Obesity and GENES) Project Pan-European Weight Loss Study to look for a definite answer to this question.
Diogenes is a multi-centre research project to advance understanding of how obesity can be prevented and treated from a dietary perspective.
Professor Arne Astrup, co-ordinator of the 8-country dietary intervention study, gave an overview of their main findings, by video link to the recent joint meeting of the New Zealand and Australian Nutrition Societies in Queenstown, New Zealand.
To summarise, the Diogenes study found the best and most lasting weight loss results were found with diets which had the following characteristics:
Of significance, this diet composition also resulted in the lowest drop-out rate, meaning people were able to stick with it.
While much of this is not really that surprising, it has at least now been shown in a large study and may mean claims for other, more extreme food combinations may be quieted. The study reinforces the evidence that protein is best to suppress appetite, carbohydrate (preferably complex) slightly less so, and fat is almost useless at curbing appetite.
Another part of the study is investigating whether a specific genotype (genetic make-up) made weight loss more successful for some people. Professor Astrup suggested there was probably such a genotype that resulted in a slightly greater weight loss (perhaps only 3-4 kg greater) but their genetic studies were not yet completed.
Last Reviewed: 09 December 2011