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Experts Weigh Diet Options

Experts Weigh Diet OptionsTwo Tufts nutrition experts helped assess various diet options at an obesity panel and recommend a simple solution: eat less, eat healthy – permanently. Boston.

Boston [06.09.04] Nearly two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and despite the popularity of a new generation of best-selling diet books, the numbers are still rising. While scientists have yet to agree on which diets are working, two Tufts experts say there are some basic rules to live by - eat well and eat less.

"People have to learn how to modify their lives, less calories, more exercise," Alice Lichtenstein - professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts - told the Boston Globe. "And it has to be permanent."

During a national conference on obesity last week, Lichtenstein told reporters that many commercial diet plans may not be effective or necessary for fighting America's growing waistline.

"I don't think we need diet books," she told the Richmond Post-Dispatch. "I think what we need to do is get the message to people that they have to change their eating habits and lifestyles, what they are currently doing that is causing them to be overweight or obese."

Susan Roberts - a Friedman School professor and Senior Scientist at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts - agrees.

"We have people coming in who have tried 10 diets and they all failed," Roberts- who studies how the body uses calories for energy- told the Post-Dispatch. While preliminary research indicates that diets simply low in fat appear least effective, Roberts says there isn't much conclusive research on the effectiveness of new fad diets.

"If scientists are confused, the public is confused," Lichtenstein told the Post-Dispatch. "It's not sexy to recommend a diet high in fruits and vegetables. It turns out it's what everyone is recommending."

Scientists do seem to agree on a few simple solutions: smaller portions, more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and less heart-clogging saturated fat. Roberts stressed that these small changes can lead to permanent weight loss.

"It's what's healthy for the long run," Roberts told the Globe. "All of us can agree on that."



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