Keeping a diary to help fight obesity

A new study has found that overweight and obese men and women who exercised and followed a healthy diet lost more weight if they kept a diary of what they ate.

Study subjects who kept track of their eating habits lost almost twice the weight - an average of 13 pounds - compared to those who did not.

"Journaling helps us plot this course," said Dr. Robert Dent, founder of the weight loss clinic at The Ottawa Hospital. "So not only does it help us understand how to restrict certain foods, it helps us understand that we can have certain foods in moderation."

The study was conducted by researchers at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. The findings will be published in the August edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study's 1,700 participants:
  • Followed a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low- or non-fat dairy products.
  • Did moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day. 
  • Attended weekly support meetings. 
  • Kept a diary outlining the foods they ate and calories they consumed.
"Keeping a food diary doesn't have to be a formal thing," Dr. Keith Bachman of Kaiser Permanente's Weight Management Initiative said in a statement. "Just the act of scribbling down what you eat on a Post-It note, sending yourself e-mails tallying each meal, or sending yourself a text message will suffice. It's the process of reflecting on what you eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behaviour."