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Mediterranean dieters kept weight off for six years

October 03, 2012|By Mary MacVean
  • A diet that followed the habits of people who live near the Mediterranean was the most successful after six years among a work-based group.
A diet that followed the habits of people who live near the Mediterranean… (Sakis Mitrolidis / AFP/Getty…)

Moderately obese people who ate the Mediterranean diet lost more weight than groups of people who followed either a low-fat or a low-carbohydrate diet, researchers reported.

The Mediterranean group weighed almost seven pounds less than they weighed six years earlier. In the low-carb group, the total was 3.7 pounds, and the low-fat group was 1.3 pounds. The Mediterranean diet is one based on the eating habits of people who live in that part of the world -- high in produce, and including olive oil and fish.

The researchers, in a letter published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, collected data from a two-year work-based program called the Dietary Intervention Randomized Controlled Trial. They randomly assigned 322 moderately obese people, most of them men, to the three diet categories. The participants were given education assistance about the diets.

After two years, the average weight loss was 6.4 pounds in the low-fat group, almost 10 pounds in the Mediterranean group and 10.3 in the low-carb group. At that point, 259 people remained in the study.

After six years, 67% had continued with their original diet, 11% had switched to another diet, and 22% were not dieting.

The researchers, led by Dr. Dan Schwartzfuchs of the Nuclear Research Center Negev in Israel, concluded that the workplace intervention “had long-lasting, favorable postintervention effects, particularly among participants receiving the Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate diets, despite a partial regain of weight.”

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