On the rise: Young women and weight gain

. Posted in Relationships

Almost two-thirds of young Australian women made a New Year’s resolution to eat better this year, yet they’re gaining weight at a faster rate than any other Australians. New research has compared two different diets for young women – with very interesting results!

A new Australian study has found that higher-protein diets, combined with regular dietitian sessions and exercise, are the key to helping young women manage their weight.

The University of Sydney study looked at the effect of diet, exercise and behavioural change in 71 overweight and obese women aged 18 to 25 over a year.

“We randomly placed women on either a higher-protein or a higher-carbohydrate diet, making sure both diets provided a similar amount of kilojoules, saturated fat and fibre, and included lower glycaemic index foods,” says researcher and dietitian Dr Helen O’Connor.

All participants also met with an Accredited Practising Dietitian at least monthly for dietary advice, and were prescribed an exercise program of 30 minutes’ daily walking.

The results?

Both diets worked, with significant drops in body weight found in both groups, but those on a higher-protein diet lost close to double the weight and fat of those on higher-carb diets! What’s more, those on a higher-protein diet felt fuller for longer and had higher self-esteem and iron levels than the higher-carb dieters. This is encouraging news for young women, who also have age on their side.

“Metabolic rate and ability to exercise tends to be higher in younger women, compared with middle-aged and older women,” says Dr O’Connor. “So this is an ideal time to eat well and exercise to look and feel good and to set themselves up for a healthy life.”

Find it hard to lose weight?

Some typical barriers for young women include:

  • Frequent dieting, including ‘quick fix’ or fad diets
  • Drinking too much alcohol and binge drinking
  • Regularly eating out and eating takeaway foods
  • Being less active, often due to the time involved in working and studying

Did you know...

One in five 18-24 year old women are overweight and 15 per cent are obese.

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7 healthy diet pledges

    1. Keep a food diary. 
      This will help pinpoint any problem areas.
    2. Ditch fad dieting. 
      Quick-fix diets don’t bring long-term change.
    3. Switch to healthier drinks. 
      Water and reduced-fat milk are the best choices. Swap sweetened drinks, such as soft drink and juice, for water.
    4. Shrink portion sizes. 
      Use a smaller plate to help reduce your portion sizes. Doing this at every meal will lower your kilojoule intake.
    5. Eat fruit and vegetables. 
    6. Eat one more piece of fruit and one more serve of vegetables each day, and try new varieties.
  • Moderate alcohol intake. 
    If you drink, avoid bingeing and have no more than two standard drinks a day. And try to have at least two alcohol-free days each week.
  • Get the right support. 
    Consider seeing a naturopath or an 
    accredited practising dietitian as a first step. Seeking professional help and tailored advice is a worthwhile investment in your healthy weight journey.