High protein diet beneficial: MUN researcher

Danette Dooley
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Health Study shows most women on diet lose weight

A Memorial University researcher who has studied the eating habits of more than 950 Newfoundland women says a high protein diet will help some, but not all women lose weight.

According to Dr. Guang Sun, post-menopausal women who do not smoke or use medication reap the most benefits from such a diet.

Dr. Guang Sun. - Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram

A Memorial University researcher who has studied the eating habits of more than 950 Newfoundland women says a high protein diet will help some, but not all women lose weight.

According to Dr. Guang Sun, post-menopausal women who do not smoke or use medication reap the most benefits from such a diet.

Sun is an associate professor of genetics at Memorial.

The amount of protein the women who participated in the study consumed varied greatly, he says.

As well, Sun says the amount of body fat also varied significantly while age and physical activity were also taken into consideration when studying the results.

While the study shows a high protein diet is most beneficial to post-menopausal women, the results also indicate that the more protein the women consumed the more lean body mass they had.

"Body mass includes your muscles, your internal organs and your bone," Sun says.

Sun feels the study results should encourage pre-menopausal women to consume a high protein diet.

Even when diets such as the high protein Atkins diet work, Sun says, it's not feasible for an entire population to stay on such a diet for the long term.

However, he says, simply increasing dietary protein should not cause a significant financial burden and is therefore possible for most people.

But he cautions that the beneficial effect of eating more dietary protein is limited unless the diet is combined with physical activity and a reduction in total daily calorie intake.

Many diets will work, he said, if the total calories you eat are below the total calories your body burns.

According to Sun, more than 50 per cent of Canadians are overweight and about 15 per cent of adults 20 to 64 years of age are obese.

This province has consistently ranked first in the country when measuring obesity rates, he says, noting that obesity often leads to other serious health problems.

"The high prevalence of obesity is associated with a high prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer."

Much of the study's analytical work was conducted by Kristian Green.

An honours student under Sun's supervision, Green has been accepted into Memorial's masters degree program in September.

The results of Sun's study have been accepted for presentation at the Obesity Society annual scientific meeting taking place in Phoenix, Az. from Oct. 3-7.

The meeting will see speakers and presenters from various parts of the world discussing the latest obesity-related research.

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Obesity Society

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Phoenix, Az

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