Losing a lot of weight at once is the best way to permanently slim down, studies presented at Stockholm's International Congress on Obesity showed, going against accepted wisdom even among doctors.
Katrina Purcell of the University of Melbourne in Australia, presented a study in which she compared a rapid diet to lose around 1.5 kilos (three pounds) a week over 12 weeks, to a gradual 36-week diet to lose 0.5 kilos per week.
"Surprisingly, and against current beliefs, this study shows rapid weight loss appears to be superior to gradual weight loss in achieving target weight," she said of the study conducted on subjects weighing around 100 kilos.
In fact, four of the participants following the gradual diet gave up before the end of the experiment, against only one in the rapid diet group.
Purcell is however quick to warn against so-called crash diets, in which weight is lost very quickly by drastically slashing kilojoules. "Don't do it by yourself, do it with a dietician," she cautioned.