Professor Annie S. Anderson
Apart from co-directing the SCPN Annie also heads up several research studies exploring weight loss and what better time of year than to share some research insights.
What are the main components of a successful weight loss programme?
A successful programme is one where people lose weight AND keep that weight off. The two main ingredients are modest decreases in total food and drink intake and modest increases in physical activity. Realistic goals are essential. One study of obese women reported that their “acceptable” weight loss was to decrease body weight by 20% yet realistically 5 to 10% might be expected. Building in positive feedback and other behaviour change techniques can also have a major impact.
What kind of diet is best for weight loss – high carb or low carb?
The best diet is the one people can follow for longest. In the long term macronutrient composition makes little difference. Many people lose a lot of weight quickly with a low carb diet but then they lapse and start to gain weight. Decreasing intakes of animal fat (notably full fat dairy products) is important for heart health as well as body weight but quitting sugary foods (which decrease carbs) also helps. Probably more important is to focus on the quantity of all foods, being particularly wary of snack (discretionary) foods like biscuits, cakes, pastries, chocolate, confectionary, sweetened drinks and savoury items like crisps.
What do people say is the hardest part about trying to lose weight?
Living and working with other people and temptations all around. As a society we are not kind to people with weight problems – we offer biscuits, second helpings and celebration cakes. Social events revolve around foods and drinks. Too often we are asking people to become social deviants by eating less. Providing professional or lay support goes a long way to helping people keep to their plans and feel positive about the challenges weight loss brings.
How successful are weight loss programmes that focus on physical activity?
Physical activity in all forms (movement, strength, stretch and balance) are important for health and can help to control body weight but a focus only on these is the least successful way to lose weight. Dietary change is always required and the best approaches build in physical activity and help to maintain muscle mass through physical activity. Remember you cannot outrun a bad diet!
What are your main recommendations for weight watching in 2019