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Do Fad Diets Really Work?

Leading Penn State Registered Dietitian Kris Clark, Ph.D., R.D., F.A.C.S.M., Clarifies This Year's Popular Diet Myths and Offers Help for

Women to Get on Track for Spring/Summer

WASHINGTON, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Spring. It's the time of year when we shed our unhealthy winter habits and renew the weight-loss vows we made back in January in hopes of seeing the numbers on the scale drop. Each year, millions of Americans follow the latest and greatest diet trends and widely publicized information in our quest to lose weight and manage our diets. However, many of the most common diet "truths" are false.

"Many women search for the magic bullet to shed extra pounds, but a lot of the most publicized diet trends result in false hope and even potential weight gain," explains registered dietitian Kris Clark, Ph.D., R.D., F.A.C.S.M., Director of Sports Nutrition, The Pennsylvania State University. "Diet myths mislead and deceive women to believe a particular ingredient or diet plan will help them lose weight, when most of these are in fact incorrect and some can even be unhealthy."

A recent national survey(1) finds that more than half of women are currently on or plan to be on a diet within the next one to two months and that 96% of these women fall victim to believing at least one of the most popular and prevalent diet myths. Dr. Clark reveals a few of the popular diet myths to help women become more diet savvy:

  • Eating at night makes you gain weight. While a full belly might not make for the most restful night of sleep, our bodies don't metabolize food differently in the evening than at other times of the day. Weight gain has nothing to do with when we eat, but rather what we eat and how much.
  • Avoid high fructose corn syrup to lose weight faster. Recent scientific reviews(2) confirm there is no unique link between high fructose corn syrup and obesity. In fact, high fructose corn syrup is nutritionally the same as sugar, metabolizes in the body similarly and is equally sweet with the same number of calories -- only 4 per gram, compared to 9 calories per gram for fats. Dr. Clark adds, "No single food or ingredient is the cause of obesity or weight gain. Eating too many calories and getting too little exercise causes it."
  • Detox from specific ingredients/food for quick, healthy weight loss. There is no scientific evidence that points to detox dieting being an effective weight loss strategy. Experts agree that moderation is the key to a healthy diet, whereas extreme measures, such as food restriction and fasting, may do more harm than good.
  • High protein, low carb diets are best for weight loss. A recent Harvard study(3) shows that regardless of protein or carb levels in the diet, total calories count when it comes to weight loss. The research pointed to low-fat and low-carb diets as being nearly identical.
  • Acai berry is the best new food for losing weight. This so-called "superfood" has recently received tremendous press that promises rapid and dramatic weight loss, but the truth is it has only been proven to be a healthy antioxidant.

More Than Nine in Ten Women Believe at Least Some of the Hype

When asked to identify which diet statements were true, a national survey of 516 women found that 96% of women were unable to correctly identify at least one of the more popular diet strategies as myth. Most women (83%) falsely believed the time of day impacts weight gain and 59% believed certain foods burn more calories during digestion than they contain. Some 53% of the women also incorrectly pointed to high protein, low carb diets as best for weight loss. In addition, 40% erroneously believed it is necessary to eliminate sugar, such as table sugar, honey and high fructose corn syrup to lose weight.

"Myths continue to gain momentum because they appeal to our desire to create shortcuts and make what requires hard work easy," explains Dr. Clark. "But, the real culprit of weight gain is eating too many calories and getting too little exercise on a daily basis."

How to Spot a Diet Myth

To demystify diet fact from fiction, Dr. Clark offers the following advice:

  • Do your homework. Just because you find a lot of information about a specific diet topic doesn't mean the information is correct. Quality should always trump quantity when it comes to diet data, so check your references and ask a few key questions - is the information from a credible source or reputable health expert/organization, is the information current and is there scientific proof that it's effective?
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it's probably false. If you can only find glowing testimonials and positive remarks about a specific diet plan, then it's likely a misleading promotion. Any legitimate diet strategy will provide both the pros and the cons, so you can make an informed decision with your health professional.

Find more science-based information on sweeteners at

The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) is the national trade association representing the corn refining (wet milling) industry of the United States. CRA and its predecessors have served this important segment of American agribusiness since 1913. Corn refiners manufacture sweeteners, ethanol, starch, bioproducts, corn oil, and feed products from corn components such as starch, oil, protein, and fiber.

(1) Kelton Research conducted the phone survey between March 17 and March 23, 2009. Results were collected from a random sample of 516 women ages eighteen and older. Quotas are set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S.


(2) Fulgoni V. 2008. High-fructose corn syrup: everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask. Am J Clin Nutr 88(6):1715S. White JS. 2008. Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it ain't. Am J Clin Nutr 88(6):1716S-1721S. Melanson KJ, Angelopoulos TJ, Nguyen V, Zukley L, Lowndes J, Rippe JM. 2008. High-fructose corn syrup, energy intake, and appetite regulation. Am J Clin Nutr 88(6):1738S-1744S.

(3) Sacks F. et al. Comparison of Weight-Loss Diets with Different Compositions of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates. N Engl J Med


SOURCE Corn Refiners Association
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