However, the successful participation of more than 400 families in 8 countries in the largest European dietary intervention study, co-ordinated by the EC funded Diogenes project and headed by Professor Arne Astrup from the Faculty of Life Sciences at University of Copenhagen, is helping to address this vital issue.
The key focus of the Diogenes study is to identify the most effective diet to help adults stop regaining weight after initial successful weight loss.
To participate in the Diogenes study, adult family members were required to lose at least 8% of their body weight, before the whole family was admitted to the 'dietary intervention' part of the study and randomised to one of five diets.
763 participating adults were successful, losing between them a total of 8500 kg, equivalent to the weight of 4 fully grown bull elephants and 11.2kg on average for each person. (see Notes below for copyright free illustration)
After this successful weight loss phase, 565 families (763 adults and 787 children) were randomly chosen to follow a diet either high or low in protein or high or low in glyceamic index foods. The fifth diet, the control diet, was based on the family's usual diet but with additional advice on the inclusion of healthy foods.
In two centres (Copenhagen and Maastricht) supermarkets set up for the study provided families with free food for 6 months, followed by 6 months of dietary advice and support. The other 6 centres (UK, Bulgaria, Crete, Czech Republic, Germany & Spain) provided families with 6 months of dietary advice and support only.
"The real target in this Diogenes research study is the prevention of weight regain after initial weight loss," states Professor Arne Astrup, from the Faculty of Life Sciences at University of Copenhagen and co-ordinator of the 8-country dietary intervention study, one of the five research lines organised by Diogenes. "Most of us can lose weight if we set our minds to it - but we are not so good at keeping it off."
Professor Astrup continues: "The data now being collated and analysed from the Diogenes study on how successful each diet has been in preventing weight regain in each country will provide clearer answers to European consumers on which diet is likely to be most successful."
Professor Wim Saris, Executive Director of the entire Diogenes project concludes: "Preliminary results from the Diogenes dietary intervention study will be disclosed at the European Congress of Obesity (ECO) (14 May 2008) with results of the entire project being presented at the Diogenes satellite on 5/6 May 2009 as part of ECO."
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