American Diet Study

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

The United States Department of Agriculture has begun a long-term study of weight loss programs.

The study is part of an attempt by the federal government to help Americans lose weight. American health officials say that more than half of all adults in the United States weigh too much. They say these Americans are likely to develop serious health problems.

Americans spend thousands of millions of dollars on books, pills and programs to help them lose weight. However, many people do not know much about the health effects of weight loss diets.

The Agriculture Department examined earlier scientific studies of popular diets. The new government report found that many popular diets can help people lose weight. However, it said losing weight is not the same as preventing weight gain.

The report said that traditional diets may be the best way to lose weight and keep the weight off. These diets include eating foods moderate in fats and high in carbohydrates. Foods high in carbohydrates include bread, corn, potatoes and rice.

The report confirms that dieters can lose weight by limiting what they eat. It said any diet that limits food to about one-thousand five-hundred calories a day produces weight loss.

The report says traditional weight loss programs have the best scientific evidence to support their health claims and rates of success. These programs suggest eating no more than thirty percent of calories as fat. They suggest limiting protein to about twenty percent. And, they say dieters should eat more fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates.

The report adds that only a few diets help to lower blood pressure and harmful cholesterol levels. The traditional diets showed some of the best improvements in blood cholesterol levels and in blood sugar control.

Several diet experts agreed with the new report's findings. They said more studies are needed to measure the safety and effectiveness of different diets.

The American government already has a list of dietary suggestions. It says the best way to control weight is to exercise and eat lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by George Grow.

Voice of America Special English