Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

December 04, 2001

U of G students seeking participants for weight-loss study

Worried about putting on weight over the winter holidays? You can start taking it off in January by participating in a nutritional weight-loss study being headed by two University of Guelph graduate students.

Joy Renders and Rachel Sherfey, master's students in the Department of Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, are looking for 80 people to take part in a study comparing the results of high- and low-protein diets in combination with or without exercise. Participants should be 20 to 40 pounds overweight and will be analysed for weight loss, fitness and body composition. "There are a number of high-protein diets on the market that promote weight loss," says Renders, who is also a fitness consultant and personal trainer. "These diets usually suggest doubling the recommended nutrient intake of protein, and most studies have shown that people on these diets lose weight, but they have never looked at what role exercise plays and whether the participants are gaining in fitness."

Renders and Sherfey's study will be a follow-up to earlier research conducted by nutritional sciences professor Kelly Meckling-Gill, who is also the faculty adviser on this research project. Meckling-Gill's earlier study, of which she was a participant, examined the effects of low-carbohydrate diets. Her research found that even people who didn't lose weight (Meckling-Gill lost 30 pounds) showed improvement to overall health, including decreased serum cholesterol and lower blood pressure. "Prof. Meckling-Gill's study didn't look at the role exercise might have played in that process, which is what we hope to determine," Sherfey said.

While Meckling-Gill added "there are not many studies out there that look at physical activity in combination with diet in controlled trials."

"This will give the students excellent research experience in the two most important lifestyle factors that relate to chronic disease elements: diet and physical activity. It is an ambitious project."

Study participants will be randomly assigned to one of four groups: a high-protein diet in combination with exercise, a high-protein diet without exercise, a low-protein diet with exercise and a low-protein diet without exercise. The program runs for 12 weeks and includes free weekly nutritional counselling, a free 12-week membership to U of G's athletic facility, and information about the diet and exercise expectations. Participants will also receive food lists of favourable and unfavourable high protein food choices and guidelines that outline how much protein and how many calories should consumed each day. Participants will be monitored for body composition, weight loss, metabolic rates and blood pressure. At the end of the study, a summary of their individual results and the pooled results of the trial will be made available.

"We look at this as helping people make lifestyle changes," Renders said. "The hope is that once people finish this study, they will have survived that hard first-three-months phase of an exercise and nutrition program and stick with it." To participate in the study, or to obtain more information, call Renders and Sherfey at (519) 829-6847.


For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, 519-824-4120, Ext. 3338.

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