Does eating less help fend off weight gain in middle age? Yes, says a new study.
The study found that women had more than twice the risk of substantial weight gain if they did not become more restrained in their eating.
"Some suggest that restrained eating is not a good practice," said Brigham Young University's Larry Tucker, a professor and the study's co-author.
"Given the environmental forces in America's food industry, not practising restraint is essentially a guarantee of failure."
The study followed 192 middle-aged women for three years and tracked information on lifestyle, health and eating habits. Their analysis revealed that women who did not become more restrained with eating were 138 percent more likely to put on 3 kg or more.
Columbia University researcher Lance Davidson, who was not involved with the analysis, said the findings highlight an important principle of weight management.
"Because the body's energy requirements progressively decline with age, energy intake must mirror that decrease or weight gain occurs," said Davidson, a research fellow at Columbia's Obesity Research Centre.
"Dr. Tucker's observation that women who practise eating restraint avoid the significant weight gain commonly observed in middle age is an important health message."
Tucker says watching what you eat is not about physical appearance - it's a direct investment in your health, said a Brigham release.
"Weight gain and obesity bring a greater risk of diabetes and a number of other chronic diseases," Tucker said. "Eating properly is a skill that needs to be practised."
The study was published in Friday's issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.