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NHLBI Obesity Research

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Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies Study (POUNDS LOST)

Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies (POUNDS LOST) study was a clinical trial designed to test the effects of four heart-healthy diets varying in fat, protein, and carbohydrate composition on the weight loss and its long term maintenance. Participants were assigned to one of four diets and asked to record their food intake in a diary or an online tool that showed how intake compared with goals. The diets were low or high in total fat (20 or 40 percent of calories) with 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. Study participants were 811 free-living overweight or obese adults ages 30-70 from Boston, MA and Baton Rouge, LA. All participants were offered group and individual counseling sessions over two years.

Weight loss after six months and two years was similar among participants assigned to the four diets. On average, participants lost 13 pounds at six months and maintained a 9 pound loss at two 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. All diets improved risk factors for cardiovascular disease at both six months and two years in ways consistent with previous studies. Improved risk factors include reduced levels of triglycerides, LDL (bad) cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, and increased HDL (good) cholesterol. The results indicate that heart-healthy, reduced-calorie diets, regardless of which macronutrients they emphasize, can help overweight and obese adults achieve and maintain weight loss.

Selected References:

Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ, et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med 2009;360:859-73.

Press Release:

Heart-Healthy, Reduced-Calorie Diets Promote Long-term Weight Loss

Sample Menus for Study Participants:

1,400-Calorie Menus
2,000-Calorie Menus
Printer-Friendly Version, pdf document icon 124 K

Last Updated March 2011


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