This report was in the news two days ago:
I can’t find the study itself in any of our databases; it’s probably just been published. Here’s the main jist of it:
“The study involving 1,685 middle-aged men and women over six months found those who kept such a diary just about every day lost about twice as much weight as those who did not.”
Excellent news! I’ve been keeping a food diary for about 2 months now, at The Daily Plate. I’ve only lost 3 pounds, but I haven’t been exercising like I should have been. For me, the success of the diary is that I haven’t gained any more weight. I had gained slowly but steadily for a couple of years, and it was just because I wasn’t paying attention. I haven’t been depriving myself, but when I’ve had all the calories I’m supposed to have, I know it’s time to stop.
Food diaries are notoriously unreliable in studies, because people lie on them. They underestimate the amount of food they eat – whether because they just don’t remember (if it’s a recall diary) or if they’re trying to make a good impression on the people doing the study. The act of being observed itself changes people’s behavior, without any other intervention. (The phenomenon is called the Hawthorn effect.) I don’t know what kind of controls they had in this new study. I do know that if you’re keeping a food diary on your own, the only way it will work is if you don’t lie to yourself. You have to write down everything you put in your mouth – otherwise in 3 weeks you’ll be looking back at the diary and not understanding why you haven’t lost any weight yet.
Keeping the food diary isn’t making me lose tons of weight, but I’m doing better than I would be without it.