From Our 2008 Archives
Keeping Food Diary Helps Lose Weight
Latest Diet & Weight Management News
It's All About Accountability and Awareness, Weight Loss Expert Says
By Miranda Hitti
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
July 8, 2008 — Keeping a food diary may be a key to losing extra weight, a new study shows.
The study, published in the August edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, included 1,685 overweight or obese U.S. adults aged 25 and older.
For six months, they kept food diaries and were encouraged to eat a healthy diet and be physically active. They also met weekly in groups to share their food diaries and brush up on skills like how to judge portion size.
After six months, participants had shed almost 13 pounds, on average. The most powerful predictor of their weight loss was how many days per week they kept their food diary, says Victor Stevens, PhD, senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.
Those who kept food records six days a week — jotting down everything they ate and drank on those days — lost about twice as much weight as those who kept food records one day a week or less, Stevens tells WebMD.
Why Food Diaries Work
"I think the most powerful part is accountability and the next most powerful part is increasing awareness of where those extra calories are coming from," says Stevens.
Showing your food diary to someone else is even better, in terms of accountability; that's what participants in Stevens' study did. "You're accountable to yourself when you're writing it down and you're accountable to other people who are looking at your food record," says Stevens.
Food diaries can also help target areas for improvement. For instance, Stevens says a food diary might make someone realize that he or she is eating 1,000 calories at lunch and set a goal to trim lunches.
5 Tips for Keeping a Food Diary
Stevens offers this advice for keeping a food diary:
Also, remember that even modest weight loss — even if it doesn't bring you down to your ideal weight — may have health benefits, says Stevens.
SOURCES: Hollis, J. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, August 2008; vol 35. Victor J. Stevens, PhD, senior investigator, Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Portland, Ore. News release, Kaiser Permanente.
©2008 WebMD, LLC. All Rights Reserved.