Objective: Decreases in variety of foods consumed within high-fat-dense food groups and increases in variety of foods consumed within low-fat-dense food groups are associated with lower energy intake and greater weight loss during obesity treatment and may assist with weight loss maintenance. This study examined food group variety in 2237 weight loss maintainers in the National Weight Control Registry, who had lost 32.2 ± 18.0 kg (70.9 ± 39.5 lbs) and maintained a weight loss of at least 13.6 kg (30 lbs) for 6.1 ± 7.7 years.
Research Methods and Procedures: At entry into the registry, registry members completed a food frequency questionnaire from which amount of variety consumed from different food groups was assessed. To provide a context for interpreting the level of variety occurring in the diet of registry participants, food group variety was compared between registry participants and 96 individuals who had recently participated in a behavioral weight loss program and had lost at least 7% of initial body weight.
Results: Registry members reported consuming a diet with very low variety in all food groups, especially in those food groups higher in fat density. Registry participants consumed significantly (p < 0.001) less variety within all food groups, except fruit and combination foods, than recent weight losers after 6 months of weight loss treatment.
Discussion: These results suggest that successful weight loss maintainers consume a diet with limited variety in all food groups. Restricting variety within all food groups may help with consuming a low-energy diet and maintaining long-term weight loss.