SEATTLE, April 16 (UPI) -- Diet and exercise are most effective for weight loss when done together, as opposed to just doing one or the other, U.S. researchers suggest.

Dr. Anne McTiernan, a member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, says a yearlong intervention involved 439 overweight-to-obese, sedentary, post-menopausal, Seattle-area women, ages 50-75, who were randomly assigned to one of four groups.

The four categories were:

-- Exercise only, 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise per day, five days a week, three at the Hutchinson Center.

-- Diet only, of 1,200 to 2,000 calories a day, depending on starting weight and fewer than 30 percent of daily calories from fat.

-- Exercise and diet using the same goals as above.

-- No intervention.

The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It OffThe study, published in the journal Obesity, found the majority of women who dieted and exercised regularly lost an average of nearly 11 percent of their starting weight -- exceeding the study's goal of a 10 percent or more reduction in body weight.

"We were surprised at how successful the women were," McTiernan says in a statement. "Even though this degree of weight loss may not bring an obese individual to a normal weight, losing even this modest amount of weight can bring health benefits such as a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer."

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