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New Study Shows Variety In Food Impacts Weight Loss

New research shows that counter to previous studies, there is a positive relationship between food variety and weight loss.

University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business Assistant Professor Peggy Liu conducted research on the effects of dietary variety and the relationship to weight loss.

Similar studies examine short time frames, particularly a single consumption episode, leading to conclusions that variety is bad as the “variety effect” suggests that more variety leads to increased consumption.

This study focused on understanding variety over a much longer time period and using several different ways to assess variation in order to examine the effects over time.

“We hypothesize that variety in one’s diet may be beneficial for weight loss, but that understanding the potential benefits or disadvantages requires new research approaches. We used data from a 16-week long clinical weight loss trial including 134 obese female adults.

Using comprehensive dietary information, and multiple methods to capture variety, we examined the relationship between dietary variety and success at weight loss. The findings reveal that dietary variety does impact weight loss, but counter to what prior research implies, it can have a positive effect.

This positive effect emerged in particular with respect to increased breakfast and afternoon snack variety and even more so for vegetables. Our findings involve real, meaningful weight loss as related to long-term behavioral patterns, which are benefits often lacking in variety research.

Our findings have clear benefits for people thinking about the best approaches for losing weight. Because all of our participants were actually trying to lose weight and given daily calorie goals, our findings speak to the nature and timing of the composition of this caloric intake, and therefore may shed light into factors driving the motivation to continue with weight loss efforts.” -Dr. Peggy J. Lui

 Dr. Liu‘s research focuses on consumer behavior, particularly as it relates to consumer welfare and well-being. Her research has appeared in Management Science, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing ResearchOrganizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes, and multiple public health and medical journals.

She primarily conducts research in three areas. In one area of research, Professor Liu examines factors that shape the healthiness of people’s choices and consumption, primarily in the food domain. She focuses particularly on understanding barriers to healthy eating and strategies for decreasing the perceived conflict between healthy eating and having an enjoyable eating experience.

 

In the second area of research, she examines how choices for others (e.g., everyday product choices, gifts, thank-you gifts) impact aspects of the interpersonal relationship, both in the context of consumer-consumer relationships and firm-consumer relationships.

Finally, in the third area of research, Professor Liu bridges her interests in both physical well-being and social well-being by focusing on how consumers manage their personal and interpersonal goals.

As part of her research on food decision-making, Professor Liu has worked with multiple members of the food industry, ranging from large, national food companies to small restaurants, to help design win-win solutions that promote healthier eating while also addressing company profit goals. She has also co-authored op-eds in The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, blogged about her research on public policy issues.

To connect with Dr. Liu to discuss her findings and share tips/samples of how variety can impact significant weight loss, contact Carrie Butler for the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business – 412-897-6177.

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