Eating habits that drop pounds in postmenopausal women

September 7, 2012
Contemporary OB/GYN Staff
Contemporary OB/GYN Staff

Giving up desserts, soda, and eating out produce short-term weight loss in postmenopausal women, but other strategies are necessary for longer-term reductions. So say results of a 4-year study by researchers from Pittsburgh of nearly 500 overweight and obese postmenopausal woman.

Giving up desserts, soda, and eating out produces short-term weight loss in postmenopausal women, but other strategies are necessary for longer-term reductions. So say results of a 4-year study by researchers from Pittsburgh of nearly 500 overweight and obese postmenopausal women.

The study subjects were women aged 52 to 62 years participating in the Women on the Move through Activity and Nutrition (WOMAN) study. The investigators randomized them to either lifestyle change (intervention) or health education (controls). The intervention group received expert advice in a group setting from nutritionists, exercise experts, and psychologists and received specific dietary and activity goals. The control group received 6 general health seminars during the first year of the study and 2 to 4 seminars per year for the next 3 years of the study. The seminars were led by experienced health professionals and focused on general health issues, but not specifically weight loss.

Associations between weight loss and eating behaviors differed between the intervention and control groups, but generally, the researchers found that eating behaviors that were associated with weight loss over a 6-month period included decreased intake of desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages, and fried foods; eating in restaurants less frequently; and eating more fish.

Decreased intake of desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages was important for continued weight loss or maintenance of weight at 4 years, but additional eating behavior changes were also necessary for success. They included decreased intake of meats and cheeses and increased intake of fruits and vegetables. Frequency of eating at restaurants was not related to weight change at 48 months.

Published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the study points out that successful strategies for losing weight in the short term are different from those for maintaining weight or dropping additional pounds over long periods of time, and that to truly decrease the burden of obesity, the focus must be on the latter.

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