Diets Don’t Work?

See, I told you I was right! Exercise is important! A WebMD article by Carolyn Wilbert[1] recently reported on a Danish study of 154 overweight people. First, they lost weight on a strictly controlled diet. Then they were followed for six months on diets containing varying amounts and types of fat and carbs.

Nearly everyone regained weight, although at least 60% kept off at least 10% of the weight they had lost. The type of diet didn’t matter much when it came to weight regain. The “healthy pyramid” diet, featuring monounsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil, seemed to improve certain diabetic risk factors such as fasting insulin[2] levels and LDL/HDL cholesterol[3] ratio.

The authors concluded that “the frequency of exercise was considered the strongest predictor of weight loss maintenance.” The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition[4]. According to Wilbert’s article, “In an accompanying editorial, authors suggest that weight loss strategies should be individualized and geared toward improving healthy parameters [such as cholesterol ratio and insulin sensitivity – DS] and the prevention of weight gain, with less emphasis on initial weight loss. Diets low in refined carbs, avoiding trans fats[5] from hydrogenated oils, and moderate intake of unsaturated fats are recommended because of the health benefits — despite only moderate weight loss.”

How much exercise? While most research has found that 30 minutes a day, five times a week is enough for basic health needs, long-term weight loss requires more. Current guidelines recommend 60 minutes daily of moderate physical activity[6]. That’s a lot — it’s more than I do — but that’s what keeping weight off requires. Once heavy, a body always wants to be heavy, so you have to find activities you like well enough to do them for 60 minutes a day. Diabetes Self-Management magazine’s most recent article on making exercise fun[7] might be a good place to start.

Great newsletter
I found out about this story and the one I shared in my last blog entry (“Food Politics”[8]) from an e-mail newsletter called Stone Hearth Fitness[9].

I don’t know how I got on the mailing list, but I like it. They have a diabetes newsletter as well. They make a good free holiday/new year gift to yourself; you can write to request to be added to the list.

  1. WebMD article by Carolyn Wilbert:
  2. insulin:
  3. cholesterol:
  4. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:
  5. trans fats:
  6. physical activity:
  7. making exercise fun:
  8. “Food Politics”:
  9. Stone Hearth Fitness:

Source URL:

David Spero: David Spero has been a nurse for 40 years and has lived with multiple sclerosis for 30 years. He is the author of four books: The Art of Getting Well: Maximizing Health When You Have a Chronic Illness (Hunter House 2002), Diabetes: Sugar-coated Crisis — Who Gets It, Who Profits, and How to Stop It (New Society 2006, Diabetes Heroes (Jim Healthy 2014), and The Inn by the Healing Path: Stories on the road to wellness (Smashwords 2015.) He writes for Diabetes Self-Management and Pain-Free Living (formerly Arthritis Self-Management) magazines. His website is His blog is

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information, which comes from qualified medical writers, does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.