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Diet stumbling blocks

January 5, 2011 8:31:05 PM PST
It's that time of year when it seems that everyone is going on a diet. But those diets can be short-lived. By the end of last year, only 15 percent of those surveyed by Consumer Reports National Research Center said they were on a diet. And 40 percent said they usually ate whatever they wanted.

Most people characterize their diet over the past year as pretty healthful. But delve deeper into the survey's findings, and it seems we may be fooling ourselves.

Consumer Reports asked people what steps they're taking to eat well and control their weight. It turns out that only 15 percent are counting calories. That's a key strategy for losing weight.

In fact, the poll found that most people don't have an accurate take on counting calories. Consumer Reports asked people which had more calories, a Dunkin Donuts glazed donut or a Dunkin Donuts plain bagel. And 75 percent got it wrong. The donut has 260 calories; the bagel, 320 calories.

And are there more calories in 20 M&M's or an ounce of pretzel sticks? Most people got that wrong, too. The M&M's have 68 calories. That ounce of pretzel sticks has 100 calories.

Even people who described themselves in the poll as watching what they eat didn't necessarily make good choices. About 30 percent who say they carefully limit sugar down a sugar-sweetened drink most days. And 10 percent who say they strictly limit their fat had bacon or another fatty meat for breakfast.

But the good news: Almost 60 percent of those polled said they eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. And they're choosing whole grains instead of white bread and white rice.

Consumer Reports' survey also found that 78 percent of Americans eat breakfast. That's another important finding because eating breakfast has been shown to keep your weight under control.

You can get more information on good diet strategies at: www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/february/health/weight-loss/overview/index.htm.

Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this Web site.


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