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[IP] Federal study of diets concludes: Eat less

Federal study of diets concludes: Eat less
Confronted by competing claims, scientists want data
January 10, 2001
Web posted at: 6:04 a.m. EST (1104 GMT)

By Elizabeth Cohen
CNN Medical Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Walk into any book store, and you'll be bombarded with 
weight loss books, some claiming low-fat diets will help you shed pounds, 
others touting high-protein diets.

A study out Wednesday from the federal government concludes that both kinds of 
popular diets work -- at least in the short-term -- not because they have any 
special secrets, but simply because both types of diets force you to eat fewer 

"The main thing in weight loss is calories in versus calories out," said 
Judith Stern, professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University 
of California-Davis, who reviewed the report by the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture. "People go on fad diets and think, 'This one will be different,' 
but it never is and their weight rebounds and they move on to the next fad 


Find out more about the foods you eat
The USDA set out last year to study popular diets because of the huge number 
of diet books -- the agency said a search on Amazon.com yielded 1,214 -- and 
the relative dearth of scientific information on whether these diets work.

"Surveys consistently show that most Americans are trying to lose or maintain 
weight," according to the report. "The proliferation of diet books is nothing 
short of phenomenal."

The next step, according to the USDA report, is to conduct studies pitting 
protein diets against low-fat diets to see which works better long-term for 
weight loss and health promotion.

Researchers have applauded the USDA's decision to scientifically study popular 

"The whole point of science is to help people sort out conflicting science, 
and nowhere is there more conflicting claims than in the area of diet," said 
Dr. Dean Ornish, an advocate of low-fat diets. "It's important to bring 
together good scientists. Good scientists say, 'Show me the data.'"
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