Monday, 9 January, sees the beginning of the national ‘JanUary’ campaign (formerly known as National Obesity Awareness Week) which runs until Sunday, 15 January. JanUary, with a strapline of ‘do something good for U’, is a week long programme focusing on what individuals and families can do to ensure or improve their health. Research by the University of Liverpool has found that eating prunes as part of a weight control diet can improve weight loss.
The festive season signals a time for celebrating and this inevitably involves over-indulging– both in terms of the quantity and type of food we consume.
According to the British Dietetic Association, members of the public have been known to eat a staggering 6,000 calories on Christmas Day (triple a man’s and four times a woman’s recommended daily intake) and with many people enjoying an extended period of partying, the after effects of this decadent lifestyle can result in an average weight gain of 1-5 lb over the holiday period.
But is it possible to lose weight without feeling hungry?
Low fibre consumers
A study by the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society of 100 overweight and obese low fibre consumers tested whether eating prunes as part of a weight loss diet helped or hindered weight control over a 12-week period.
It also examined if low fibre consumers could tolerate eating substantial numbers of prunes in their diet, and if eating prunes had a beneficial effect on appetite.
Greater weight loss
To assess the effects of prunes on weight and appetite, participants in the study were divided into two groups – those who ate prunes every day (140g a day for women and 171g a day for men) and those who were given advice on healthy snacks over the period of active weight loss.
The researchers found that members of the group which ate prunes as part of a healthy life-style diet lost 2kg in weight and shed 2.5cm off their waists. However, the people in the group which was given advice on healthy snacks lost only 1.5kg in weight and 1.7cm from their waists.
The study also found that the prune eaters experienced greater weight loss during the last four weeks of the study, the period when weight loss becomes more of a challenge.
Increased feelings of fullness in the prune group after week eight may contribute to this effect. Moreover, despite the high daily doses, prunes were well tolerated.
Although consumption of dried fruit is not readily recommended during weight loss the evidence shows it enhances feelings of fullness.
Useful and convenient addition
Liverpool psychologist, Dr Jo Harrold who led the research, said: “These are the first data to demonstrate both weight loss and no negative side effects when consuming prunes as part of a weight management diet. Indeed in the long term they may be beneficial to dieters by tackling hunger and satisfying appetite; a major challenge when you are trying to maintain weight loss.”
Professor Jason Halford, Chair in Biological Psychology and Health Behaviour and Head of the University’s Department of Psychological Sciences, added: “Maintaining a healthy diet is challenging. Along with fresh fruit and vegetables, dried fruit can provide a useful and convenient addition to the diet, especially as controlling appetite during dieting can be tough.”
For more information about the JanUary campaign please visit http://www.jan-u-ary.co.uk/
This research was funded by the California Prune Board.