HealthDay News — Choosing a weight-loss plan based on food preferences might backfire and lead to less weight loss, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

To examine whether offering choice of diet improves weight loss, William Yancy Jr., MD, a research associate in the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues conducted a double-randomized preference trial.

The participants (n=207) were split into two groups. Participants in the choice group were allowed the option to switch diets after 12 weeks if they were unsatisfied with their initial decision. The study lasted 48 weeks, during which time both groups received group and telephone counseling.

Patientswho had a choice lost slightly less weight compared with those who had no choice. After 48 weeks, the choice group lost an average of 12.6 pounds, while the other group lost an average of 14.8 pounds.

“[The difference in weight loss] was not statistically significant,” noted study author Yancy. “The weight loss was similar between the two groups. It’s just that the direction of effect was not even in the expected direction,” he told HealthDay.


  1. Yancy WS et al. Ann Intern Med. 2015; doi:10.7326/M14-2358.