ST. PAUL, MINN. — Oprah Winfrey’s recent claims that she has lost weight while eating bread every day are supported by nutritional science, said Julie Miller Jones, professor emeritus of nutrition at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn.
In a commentary prepared on behalf of the Wheat Foods Council, Dr. Jones described the scientific underpinnings of Oprah’s remarks. The idea that Oprah said she was losing weight while eating bread each and every day “jolted consumers into questioning current popular press claims that bread and grains are making us fat.” This surprise aside, the celebrity’s statement was consistent with “what science has been saying since the beginning of nutrition science,” she added.
|Julie Miller Jones, professor emeritus of nutrition at St. Catherine University|
“Oprah’s diet success and the success of millions who use Weight Watchers challenge the prevailing view that when dieters restrict, or eliminate, bread they will become suddenly slim,” Dr. Jones said. “Her statement also raises questions about fad diets and easy fixes, and those who promote them. Consumers should consider that if any fad diet effectively addressed overweight for the long term, there would be no need for another book or miracle diet.”
While her testimonial represents only an “n of one,” Oprah’s experience has been replicated in studies. In one, more than 120 middle-aged, overweight or obese women were placed on a low-calorie diet and divided into two groups. One group’s diet included bread while the other eliminated it. Dr. Jones said the researchers found the group that ate bread consumed more carbohydrates than the other group but fewer calories.
“That’s a good start for weight loss,” she said. “More importantly, only 6% of the bread group dropped out, compared to over 20% of the non-bread group. Satiety data also differed with subjects who ate bread reporting they felt more satiated than those not including bread.”
Dr. Jones said satiety while dieting is important for diet compliance, and compliance, in turn, is a key to successful weight loss.
Compliance also has implications for long-term success, Dr. Jones said. She cited a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finding that dieters stick with regiments associated with weight loss and maintenance.
“In other words, diets that enable a sustainable, long-term dietary change provide the key to long-term weight loss success,” she said. “In fact, the JAMA study also showed that those on the Weight Watchers diet were more likely to have long-term success than those assigned to a low-carb diet. One potential reason is that the diet is one that is not radically different from mainstream diets.”
Commenting on the merits of the Weight Watchers plan, Dr. Jones said that it, the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH diet feature an appropriate balance of all food groups. In the case of bread and cereals, this balance means a mix of enriched grain and whole grain products.“In conclusion, diet patterns that include breads, whole grains, and cereals in the right balance are associated with lower body weights and less weight gain over time,” Dr. Jones said. “Dietary patterns such as DASH or Weight Watchers that include bread do allow weight loss. Such dietary strategies encourage adherence, which means there is a greater likelihood of maintaining weight loss over the long term.”