The findings suggest that significant improvements in overall health can be made, regardless of weight loss, when women learn to recognize and follow internal hunger cues and begin feeling better about their size and shape. Results of the study will appear in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
"We have been ingrained to think that seriously large people can only make improvements in their health if they diet and slim down," said nutrition researcher and professor Linda Bacon, who conducted the study along with Judith Stern, a UC Davis professor of nutrition and internal medicine. "But this study tells us that you can make significant improvements in both metabolic and psychological health without ever stepping on the scales or counting calories. You can relax about food and eat what you want."
Although this study included only women, the researchers say that there is no reason to believe that the results would be different for men.
For years it has been known that obesity is associated with a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and even some cancers. To avoid such medical complications, health professionals have encouraged their obese patients to lose weight. But dieting has not proven successful in the long run. Initial weight loss is often followed by a return to at or near the original weight, with no improvements in health indicators such as blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
Faced with the dismal track record of dieting, the rising prevalence of obesity, and the premise that obesity itself may be relatively benign compared with health habits, nutritionists and health professionals began to look for a more effective way of
Contact: Pat Bailey
University of California - Davis