Tuesday, April 22, 2008

From the Journal of Duh?

A headline from one of my media trawls caught my eye yesterday, "Fruit and vegetables may help weight loss" and so I clicked the link and found myself face to face with an article discussing a recent paper published in Nutrition Research.

The paper, High intake of fruits and vegetable predicts weight loss in Brazilian overweight adults details the story of 80 overweight Brazilians who attended a nutritional counseling program. Comparing their weight and food frequency questionairre answers from both before and after the 6 month program they found.....


People who ate more fruits and vegetables lost more weight.

Why isn't this exciting?

A few reasons.

Firstly because of the study's design. In its analysis it only controlled for age, sex, changes in walking time and total energy intake. No mention of meals out, exercise outside of walking, macronutrient dietary changes, frequency of meals and snacks and many other variables that certainly have a role in weight loss differences.

Secondly because it's not news. Barbara Rolls has dedicated her life's work to the concept of energy density which can be summarized simply in saying eat more foods with lower energy densities (calories per gram) like vegetables and fruits and you'll lose weight.

Thirdly because in the study the weight loss we're talking about in this study is barely weightloss - 3.08lbs over 6 months.

I've seen constipation weigh more than 3.08lbs.

Bottom line?

Eating fruits and vegetables can certainly help with you with weight loss if they are replacing higher calorie options and certainly irregardless of their effect on your weight, they're good for you. But as far as this study goes all it taught me was that I won't be recommending the weight loss program in Brazil that over 6 months only managed to help patients lose a grand total 3lbs and eat a whole 3.5 ounces more fruits and vegetables a day.