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 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."