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Crash diets best for weight loss

What's the best way to lose weight: crash diets or the gradual approach? 

This has been a question that has provoked debate among dieters across the world down the ages. Most weight-loss courses have advocated the latter approach.

But now an Australian study into 200 obese people claims that shedding pounds quickly can be more healthy and effective than a more measured method.

The Joseph Proietto-led research has sought to analyse if gradual weight loss leads to bigger longer-term weight loss and not as much weight regain than crash diets among obese people.

The University of Melbourne's Prof Proietto and his team have been researching adults with a BMI of 30-45kg/m² with volunteers split into two groups.

One set have been put on a gradual weight-loss (GWL) schedule lasting 36 weeks. The other group have been assigned to a rapid weight-loss (RWL) schedule lasting 12 weeks.

The University of Melbourne's Katrina Purcell says that losing weight quickly is more likely to result in obese people hitting a target of losing an eighth of their poundage. She says drop-out rates are also more likely to be lower.

So why is this when it goes against hitherto perceived wisdom among diet courses throughout the world?

The research authors suggest that losing weight can rapidly help motivate dieters not to let their hard work go to waste by piling back on the pounds.

In addition, low-calories diets with fewer carbohydrates may force our bodies to burn up fat. This in turn generates organic compounds called ketones, which actually suppress hunger, the authors write.

The study is published in The Lancet.

Copyright Press Association 2014