There has always been a controversy about dieting, particularly when normal sized people try to shed more weight in order to look good. This especially applies to women who tend to take it to extremes.
But scientists in their wisdom believe there are good reasons for going on a diet even for those people who may not look like they need to. They are convinced that dropping a few pounds can improve your sleep, mood and sex life.
Research reveals that adults with an ideal body mass index (BMI) – or those who are overweight but not obese – felt happier, less stressed and had more energy after slimming down.
The benefits also extended into the bedroom, with libido and relationships both receiving a boost when calories were cut by a quarter over two years. British experts have previously argued that adults should aim to be at the lower end of the ‘ideal weight’ range to prevent health problems, including cancer.
The most recent study from the US suggest that counting the calories can also bring many psychological and lifestyle benefits. Researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana tracked the health of 216 men and women for two years. Volunteers were either normal weight or overweight but not obese, with a BMI of 22 to 28. The BMI of an overweight person is between 25.2 and 29.9 while that of obese people is over 30.
Two-thirds of the group were asked to cut back on their daily calorie intake by one-quarter – the equivalent of two bars of chocolate for women, and three pints of lager and a slice of buttered toast for men. The rest were told to eat as usual.
After two years the dieters had lost more weight – an average of more than a stone – and were happier and healthier. The exact reasons for their findings are unclear, but decades of research in animals suggests that a severe restriction in calories leads to the body switching to a ‘survival mode’ that slows ageing and improves health.
The volunteers may also have got a psychological boost from their slimmer figures. Presenting their findings in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers said: ‘In obese adults calorie restrictions can be undertaken with little concern about negative effects on quality of life, mood, sexual function and sleep.’
But Professor David Haslam of the National Obesity Forum said many of the changes in the study seem to be brought about by simply eating more healthily. He said: ‘It’s odd people of normal weight should be counting calories and much more sensible for them to be eating healthily.’
For me eating healthily and sensibly is by far the best attitude to take whatever your weight. Contrary to most studies, some obese people are happier and lighter on their feet and sexually more vociferous than most of the macho men of today who brag about their performance in the bedroom. Exceptions are sometimes more attractive than we give them credit for.