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Diet & weight control

Food Today

Both the developed and developing world face an obesity epidemic. Are the current recommendations for addressing this epidemic attainable? A “small changes” approach to reducing energy intake and increasing physical activity has been proposed, in order to prevent weight gain for the general population.
Will caffeinated drinks make you dehydrated? Should you limit egg consumption or avoid cooking vegetables? Can eating certain nutrients at certain times of the day help you lose weight? Fact is not always easy to distinguish from fiction.
Physical activity is related to health and lifestyle status and should be part of everyone’s daily routine. With growing rates of obesity and its associated health problems, physical activity is now more important than ever.
At the recent Food in Action conference organised in conjunction with EUFIC, psychologist Dr Andrew Hill revealed a number of counter-intuitive findings about what makes adolescents obese. His findings shine an alternative light on the issue and offer insight into new approaches to tackle this problem.
It seemed too good to be true, bacon and eggs every day if you want and still lose weight. Millions of Europeans tried The Atkins Diet and stories of dramatic weight loss were reported, but concerns regarding nutritional balance and poor long- term compliance may mean the Atkins reign is over.
Two previous articles in this mini-series on problems of excess weight considered the physical, psychological, social and economic consequences. Those articles advised that nostrums and snake oils have no value and stressed that losing weight deliberately is not easy and gave some practical advice on how to achieve weight reduction. But how to keep your weight under control, that is the question.
In Food Today 37, attention was drawn to the fact that maintaining body weight in the normal range improves health; that the proportion of the population that is overweight or obese is now substantial; that a hundred million years of heredity benefited, during famine, those who accumulated fat in times of plenty; that losing weight is consequently difficult for most people and that fad diets and nostrums have no place in weight loss. How then should one reduce weight?
Each week brings a further rash of fad diets and dieting nostrums in the pages of women's magazines. In truth we know that 'grapefruit segments' or 'cultured yak milk' is not the answer to our overweight problem, but despite this we still hope that it might help and we try it. So why don't we reject them?
Against a global backdrop of increasing levels of obesity 1, it is important that public health messages to counter this serious problem really work. In a major collaborative venture, five European research centres recently carried out a study to test whether current advice to follow a low-fat diet actually reduced weight in a free-living situation2.
Amid rising obesity rates, low-calorie sweeteners have been proposed as a potentially useful tool for weight management. By providing the sweet taste without the calories, low-calorie sweeteners can be a palatable way to reduce the energy density of the diet. This can help people to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight when combined with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
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ABOUT EUFIC
The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) is a non-profit organisation which communicates science-based information on nutrition and health, food safety and quality, to help consumers to be better informed when choosing a well-balanced, safe and healthful diet.

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This site was last updated 24/07/2014
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