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Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss

Home environment plays role in effort to drop pounds, experts say

TUESDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- If you want to lose weight, exercise and diet are crucial. But a new study says other factors appear to play a role, too -- including the number of TVs in your house and the presence of exercise equipment.

"The home environment really came out as a stronger factor than we would have anticipated," Suzanne Phelan, assistant professor of kinesiology at California Polytechnic State University and lead author of the new study, said in a news release.

Phelan and colleagues looked at the results of surveys of 167 people who lost a big chunk of their body weight -- at least 10 percent -- and managed to keep the pounds at bay for five or more years. The researchers compared this group to two other groups of people who were overweight or obese.

The researchers investigated what set the weight-losers apart from the others, and published their findings in the October issue of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

Those who lost weight and kept it off were about three to four times more likely to exercise than those who were obese or overweight. They were also about 1.4 to 1.6 times more likely to spend time thinking about restraining their food intake, considering things like calories.

Those who lost weight had fewer televisions in their home and less high-fat food on hand. They also had more exercise equipment in their homes, the study authors noted.

"You have to pay attention to your home environment if you want to succeed," Phelan said. "Do you have TVs in every room? When you walk into your kitchen, do you see high-fat food or healthy food?"

Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center, noted in the news release that the study's findings were "common sense" and "close to self-evident."

"If you want to choose better foods, keep better foods within reach. Don't just rely on willpower. If you want to be more active, create opportunities for exercise that are always within reach. Don't just rely on motivation," he said.

More information

Learn more about obesity from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Annals of Behavioral Medicine, news release, Oct. 23, 2009

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