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Study probes weight gain after diets

Lighthouse"Trying to lose weight alters your brain and hormones so you're doomed to pile it on again," the Daily Mail reported today.

Many people struggle to maintain their new weight after a diet, and this news is based on a small study that investigated the biological reasons for this.

Researchers monitored the hormone levels of 50 volunteers who were given very low calorie diets, of around 500 calories a day, for 10 weeks alongside weight loss advice, a recommended exercise programme and supervision from a dietitian.

 Comparing levels of several dietary hormones before, during and after the weight loss programme, researchers found that many of the hormonal changes experienced during the diet persisted a year after the diets ended, when participants were trying to maintain their new lower weight. Researchers suggest that this means the body has a hormonal "backlash" against the lack of calories during a diet, and will instruct the body to replace lost weight in the future.

This study provides some useful evidence about hormone levels and appetite in obese people following a weight loss programme. However, to make firm conclusions, larger studies are needed to compare dieting participants with people not attempting the diet. People who want to lose weight should not be alarmed by this study's findings or feel "doomed". It is well known that keeping off weight lost through dieting is difficult. Instead, they should see a dietitian or their GP if they are struggling to maintain or reach a healthy weight.

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