Want a successful diet? Just pick one.

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Released: Monday, February 23, 2009

BATON ROUGE - According to Dr. George Bray’s latest findings, people wanting to lose weight can choose one of a variety of diets – they all worked.  The key is to create or choose a heart-healthy diet that reduces calorie intake. Whether high or low fat, protein or carbohydrate, all diets studied by Dr. Bray and his colleagues led to long-term weight loss.

Results of the study – called Pounds Lost – published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, Bray worked in collaboration with researchers at Harvard University School of Public health and relied upon volunteers who enrolled for a two-year diet, activity and counseling program.

POUNDS LOST, short for Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies, led to similar weight loss among participants assigned to one of four diets that differed in proportions of three major nutrients. The diets were low or high in total fat (20 or 40 percent of calories) with either average or high protein (15 or 25 percent of calories).  Carbohydrate content ranged from 35 to 65 percent of calories.  The diets all used the same calorie reduction goals and were heart-healthy—low in saturated fat and cholesterol while high in dietary fiber. 

On average, participants lost 13 pounds at 6 months and maintained a 9 pound loss at 2 years.  Participants also reduced their waistlines by 1 to 3 inches by the end of the study.  Craving, fullness, hunger, and diet satisfaction were all similar across the four diets. 

“The good news here,” said Bray, “is people who need to lose weight can be flexible to choose an approach that they’re most likely to sustain—one that is most suited to their personal preferences and health needs.”
In addition to the diet, participants received group diet counseling twice a month and individual sessions every eight weeks. Participants were given personalized calorie goals, ranging from 1,200 to 2,400 calories per day, which reduced their overall caloric intake as compared with their daily energy requirement.  All participants also undertook moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, for at least 90 minutes per week. 


The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.