Research shows frozen meals aid in weight loss

By Nicolas Jaramillo

A study done at the University links weight loss to portion control and pre-made frozen meals. In a country that is increasingly concerned with weight loss, portion control provides a reasonable means to drop the extra weight. ÿ

“There are many reasons for overweight and obese people in this country because we as a culture have lost control of our portions.ÿWe’re just eating too much food,” said University professor John W. Erdman. ÿ

Led by Erdman, the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition set up two groups for comparison in their weight loss experiment. Both groups consisted of overweight or obese people averaging about 214 pounds who were motivated to drop weight.ÿOnce the test subjects were acquired they were placed in two groups – both of which were given a strict diet. ÿ

While the first group was given instruction to follow the food guide pyramid, exercise portion control, and cook their own meals, the second group was given the freedom to choose from a selection of Uncle Ben’s Bowls pre-made frozen food entrees. In both cases, participants were asked to reduce their diets to 1,700 calories per day from an average of 2,400 calories per day.

After eight weeks of dieting, both groups lost a significant amount of weight.ÿThe group that was given instruction on how to prepare meals lost an average of 11.2 pounds while the group that ate Uncle Ben’s Bowl entrees lost an average of 16.3 pounds. ÿ

“We expected both groups to lose weight but were surprised that the frozen food group lost so much more weight than the control,” said LeaAnn Carson, a University research dietitian. ÿ

Researchers also found that both groups decreased their BMI or body mass index, but the BMI of the group eating pre-made frozen portions decreased one unit more than the control group.

While both groups were supervised in portion control and daily calorie intake, the difference in weight loss was attributed to simple human error.ÿ

“The pyramid group had to figure out what to eat and estimate how much they actually consumed,” research dietitian Sandra M. Hannum said. ÿ

With increasingly busy lifestyles people do not always have the time or energy to eat a home-cooked meal and monitor exact calorie intake and portion control. The group that ate frozen entrees did not face this dilemma because their calories and portions were pre-made.

“Portion control is not only for people who want to lose weight, but this form of diet can be used also for maintaining weight,” Erdman said.

The research was designed for people who are overweight and even obese, but the results are not limited to this group. Maintaining weight can be just as difficult as losing weight, and frozen meals provide an efficient tool in the battle of the bulge.

After this University study, the USDA announced the release of a new food pyramid that factors in age, gender and levels of physical activity, further complicating the process of portion control. However, these factors concerning weight loss do not hinder all dieters.ÿ

“People who are motivated to lose weight do a better job,” Erdman said.