Smaller Portions Lead to Effective Weight Loss

Susan Farley
Published Online: Wednesday, December 1, 2004

A recent study from the Summa Health System of Ohio has determined that eating the proper portion size may be the best way for people to lose weight. The authors applied the behavioral model known as Stages of Change to evaluate 329 overweight or obese 40- to 69-year-old patients. The 5 stages of change are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. The patients were categorized into a stage based on their attitudes toward portion control, decreasing dietary fat, increasing intake of fruit and vegetables, increasing planned exercise, and increasing physical activity. Study participants made changes in all 5 categories and achieved weight loss, but the greatest weight loss came in the category of portion control. In fact, portion control increased the chances of weight loss by 4 times, compared with eating more fruits and vegetables, which increased the chances of weight loss by 3 times. By the time the 2-year study was over, 23% of the patients had lost 5% or more of their initial body weight, whereas 18% had gained that amount. Those patients in the action and maintenance stages for portion control lost nearly 38% of their initial body weight. Study author Dr. Everett E. Logue remarked, "I'm not saying exercise is not important; however, [if the goal is to reduce calories], it's easier to skip a brownie than to run 4 miles."

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