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[IP] Thought this was interesting.
Do You Know What You Ate Last Summer?
Most Overweight Women Have Inaccurate Memories of Meal Size
By Denise Mann
July 2, 2001 (Philadelphia) -- More than 90% of overweight women underreported how much they eat, according to a new
study presented here at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association.
The study of 200 overweight black women with type 2 diabetes found that, on average, they underreported how much they
ate by about 800 calories per day. They said they consumed 1,300 calories per day, but they actually took in closer to
The greater the level of obesity, the greater the likelihood that calories were underreported, the study found.
Estimates are that 10-40% of people underreport what they eat.
Those who are most likely to do so include females, people who are overweight or obese, dieters, and people of low
socioeconomic status. Researchers led by Carmen Samuel-Hodge, PhD, project director of A New Dawn, a church-based
diabetes intervention program in Chapel Hill, N.C., say that for these reasons, they expected the study population to
be food underreporters.
So are these people simply lying?
Maybe to themselves, but not necessarily intentionally, she says.
"Do people tell you what they should be eating, rather than what they are eating?" asks Samuel-Hodge. Maybe.
"If you want to see yourself as someone following a diet, recalling otherwise is inconsistent with what you believe
yourself to be," she says.
To arrive at their findings, researchers randomly called participants three times over the course of a month and asked
them to report everything they had eaten in the past 24 hours. They then compared food recalls with readings of
physical activity and rest.
"It's very hard to accurately report calories," says Rena Wing, PhD, professor of psychiatry and human behavior at
Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, R.I.
"They may take a snack here or there and forget to write it down," she says. "There may also be a social desirability
Obese people are five times more likely than people of normal weight to develop type 2 diabetes. Many experts cite the
soaring rates of obesity in the U.S. as one of -- if not the -- main culprit for the current diabetes epidemic.
Treatment often begins with lifestyle changes, including regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet. Some may
take medications to control their blood sugar levels, depending on the severity of the disease.
That's why researchers are excited about the launch of Look Ahead, the first-ever study to look at whether weight loss
in type 2 diabetics actually translates into a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and death. The 12-year study of
5,000 people will involve 16 medical research centers and cost $180,000,000.
"We do know that obesity is bad for people with type 2 diabetes," Wing says. Such people have greater risk of heart
disease than their normal-weight counterparts.
"Weight loss in the short term is very beneficial for people with diabetes in terms of lowering blood sugar,
cholesterol, and blood pressure," Wing says. "We don't know if these benefits are maintained long-term."
In fact, some studies have suggested that diabetics who lose weight may have an increased risk of death. However these
studies were not designed to weed out people who lost weight involuntarily, such as those with severe illnesses.
Those interested in more information about Look Ahead should call 1-866-55AHEAD.
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