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Weight-Loss Keys: Food Journals, Eating In, Not Skipping Meals

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- If you are trying to lose weight, adopting three key strategies will boost your chances of success, new research suggests.

Keep a food journal, avoid eating out often and don't skip meals.

"Greater food-journal use predicted better weight-loss outcomes, whereas skipping meals and eating out more frequently were associated with less weight loss," writes Dr. Anne McTiernan, a research professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle. In the new study, she and her colleagues looked at a wide range of behaviors and meal patterns to evaluate what works and what doesn't.

Their findings are published July 13 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The study lends support to the value of many strategies long suggested for weight loss or maintaining a weight loss, McTiernan said. "Our study was unique in asking about all of these behaviors in one weight-loss intervention study, to see which ones actually worked."

McTiernan evaluated changes in body weight in 123 postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 75, who were overweight or obese, over a year. The women were in a diet-only group -- reducing calories to lose weight -- or a diet-plus-exercise group.

Their average body mass index (BMI) was 31.3 at the study start. BMI is a measurement of body fat that takes height and weight into account; a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

The women completed questionnaires about what they ate, their meal patterns and behaviors such as eating out and keeping food diaries or journals.

After a year, women in both groups lost an average of 11 percent of their start weight, meeting the goal of the study. On average, the women lost 19 pounds.

However, McTiernan noticed some strategies produced more weight loss.

Women who kept food journa

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