Does your diet require a Ph.D.?


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Dieting is hard. But should it be mind-boggling? No, say the authors of a new study on dieting. The more complex the diet, they found, the more likely people are to give up on it.

Researchers at Indiana University and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, compared the diet of women following two very different diet plans and found the diets with complex rules and regulations discouraged people from continuing on the plan.


The study involved 390 women who were assigned to either a diet called Brigitte, a popular German recipe plan that provides a shopping list for dieters, and Weight Watchers, which assigns points to foods and requires dieters to keep track of their points. The two diets ‘. . . strongly differ in objective rule complexity and thus their cognitive demands on the dieter,’ the authors wrote.

‘For people on a more complex diet that involves keeping track of quantities and items eaten, their subjective impression of the difficulty of the diet can lead them to give up on it,’ Peter Todd, a professor in Indiana University’s department of psychology and brain sciences, said in a news release.

The rules of a diet should be easy to remember and follow, the researchers said. The study was published online this week in the journal Appetite and will appear in print later this month.

-- Shari Roan