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Lifestyle Changes Make The Difference

March 11, 2008, 4:38 PM by Jaine Andrews

Lifestyle Changes Make The Difference
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese--conditions that often lead to high blood pressure and diabetes. Losing weight can be challenging. But, a new study shows certain lifestyle changes are helping some people lose pounds and keep the weight off. 

Researchers point out that even small amounts of weight loss can offer health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels and helping prevent diabetes. Sometimes that's easier said than done, which is why scientists are looking into ways to achieve all those things and maintain that success. 

Robert Sanders has battled a weight problem for years. He recently enrolled in the largest study of its kind, analyzing how to lose weight and more importantly how to keep it off. 

Dr. Laura Svetkey, a researcher with Duke University Medical Center says, "We talked about making changes in your lifestyle that you could sustain for your life." 

Researchers studied about one thousand overweight and obese adults. Participants were taught lifestyle changes such as reducing daily calories, increasing moderate exercise, eating a well balanced diet and keeping track of calories and activity. Some also received monthly motivational calls during the maintenance phase, others were asked to log onto an interactive website where they received similar support. 

Svetkey says, "After two and a half years of this maintenance phase about seventy percent weighed less than they had at the very beginning of the study and that percent was higher for the group who had got the personal counseling." 

Sanders says, "That person was my motivator, my cheerleader." 

While the intervention did offer some help in keeping weight off, the effect was modest. Researchers found those who were most successful were the people who kept going back to the lifestyle changes introduced at the beginning of the study. 

Svetkey says, "That's the way to approach weight loss. Change your lifestyle, don't go on a diet." 

Sanders says after trying several diets and always gaining back the weight, he finally gets it. 

He says, "My lifestyle change has really, has enabled me to sustain this weight and I'm never going back. I will never gain the weight back I had before." 

While, Sanders lost 25 pounds in six months, all participants in the study were able to lose at least twenty pounds during the study. If they stuck with those lifestyle changes, most were able to maintain most of their weight loss.

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