NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People may be more successful in shedding pounds if they enlist the help of a registered dietitian, the findings of a small study suggest.
Researchers found that among overweight and obese adults, those who regularly took classes led by a registered dietitian were able to lose more weight over the 11-week study. In general, the more weekly classes study participants attended, the more successful they were in shaving off pounds.
The study, which is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, included 26 adults ages 19 to 65 years old, 8 of whom had type 1 diabetes.
At the outset, participants were assessed by a dietitian and given personal goals for calorie cutting. The subjects were then offered a weekly dietitian-led class that focused on healthy eating, exercise and maintaining long-term weight loss. They were also asked to come in twice a week for the next 11 weeks to be weighed; the weigh-in visits did not include counseling with a registered dietitian. None of these visits was mandatory.
After 11 weeks, the participants lost roughly 8 pounds. There were no significant differences between class attendance or weight loss among the subjects with diabetes type 1 and those without diabetes.
“Though the frequency of registered dietitian-related visits designed for this program was much less than the frequency of weigh-in visits, we found that contact with a registered dietitian had a significant influence on weight loss success whereas weigh-in frequency did not,” the researchers report.
More studies are needed to see whether this short-term success can be maintained in the long run, according to the researchers, led by Dr. Susan K. Raatz, of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
But these short-term findings do suggest that dieters may fare better with the help of a dietitian than if they go it alone, Raatz told Reuters Health.
“They can help with evaluation of the person’s lifestyle, eating habits (and) particular problems, and then work to individualize a plan that is more likely to be successful,” she explained.
People looking to lose weight can ask their doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian, Raatz noted, or find one on their own. One way is to go to the ADA Web site (www.eatright.org), which allows users to search for registered dietitians in their area.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, January 2008.