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Food diaries boost weight loss

A new study has found that people who keep food diaries are more successful at losing weight than those who do not.

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Centre for Health Research (KPCHR) in Oregon, US, found that one of the most important things dieters can do is write down what they eat.

"The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost," said Jack Hollis PhD, a researcher at KPCHR and lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. "Those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records. It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories."

The study is one of the largest and longest weight-loss maintenance trials ever conducted and is one of the few trials to recruit a large percentage (44%) of African Americans as study participants. African Americans have a higher risk of conditions that are aggravated by being overweight, including diabetes and heart disease.

Weight management specialist Keith Bachman said that the results showed most people can lose weight if they have the right tools and support. "Keeping a food diary doesn't have to be a formal thing," he said. "It's the process of reflecting on what we eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior."

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Kaiser Permanente Centre for Health Research

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Do you encourage your patients to keep food diaries? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Yes as it can help people realise what they are actually eating by writing it down. A lot of patients who have been reluctant have been surprised at what they eat and has then helped them to look realisticly at their eating habits and gone on to lose weight." - Mrs Dawn Holt, North Wales