Drinking Water Proven to Help Weight Loss

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- Drinking two cups of water before all three meals helped dieters lose weight and keep it off.

- The findings only worked in people who were middle-aged and older, but water might help younger dieters, too.

- Americans get far too many calories in the form of sugar-filled beverages.

It's a popular dieting secret: Drink more water, and you'll shed more pounds. Finally, science is adding weight to the practice.

After about three months, a new study found, obese dieters who drank two cups of water before each meal lost 5 pounds more than a group of dieters who didn't increase their water intake. A year later, the water-drinkers had also kept more of the weight off.

The study included only middle-aged and older adults, but other studies suggest that drinking water might help dieters of all ages, said Brenda Davy, a nutrition researcher at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. After years of folklore, she added, this may be the first hard evidence that pounding water is viable weight-loss strategy.

"It's this popular idea that, oh yeah, drink more water -- that's what you have to do when you want to lose weight," said Davy, who presented her new findings today at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston. "It seems to be logical, but it had never really been investigated."

Davy and colleagues reported one of their first findings in 2008 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. That study found that older adults who drank two cups of water half an hour before breakfast ate about 75 fewer calories -- or 13 percent less -- than a comparable group who hadn't drunk water before the meal. People in both groups were overweight or obese, and all were allowed to eat as much of the food as they wanted.

To see if that behavior would lead to actual weight loss, the researchers started by putting more than 40 overweight and obese adults on a diet. The dieters, all between the ages of 55 and 75, were instructed to eat healthy meals that totaled no more than 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day.

Half of the dieters were randomly assigned to drink a 16-ounce bottle of water before all three meals. The others received water but were not given any instructions about when or how to drink it.

Twelve weeks later, the water drinkers had lost an average of 15.5 pounds, compared to an average 11-pound loss in the other group. That's a 44 percent boost in weight loss, just from drinking water.

Davy's experiments have failed to find the same effect in younger adults, possibly because the gastrointestinal tract empties more slowly as we age, so water might lead to a longer-lasting feeling of fullness in older people.

But water might still work as a diet aid for younger people -- just in different ways. One year-long study, for example, found that younger dieters who reported drinking more than a liter of water a day lost a little more weight than dieters who drank less water.

The reason could be physical. According to some research, water consumption might spark the body to produce more heat, boosting metabolism and burning more calories. Or, drinking more water might simply make people less likely to drink a lot of high-calorie sugar-filled beverages, said Barry Popkin, director of the Interdisciplinary Obesity Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

In hundreds of studies, Popkn said, people eat just as much food no matter how many calories they drink. And Americans are now drinking an average of 235 calories a day -- far more than ever before.

Davy's findings need to be repeated, Popkin added, before doctors can confidently tell dieters that downing water will boost their efforts. But it can't hurt to keep a water bottle nearby, especially if that helps you take in less soda, juice, energy drinks and other caloric beverages.

"Water is by far the healthiest beverage, and if you can't drink water, then drink unsweetened tea, coffee, diet beverages or for kids, low-fat milk," Popkin said. "The fewer calories we get from beverages, the healthier we're going to be."

Two glasses of water before meals and help people eat less and lose weight, research shows.

Ever since 1890, when the use of anesthetics and antiseptics made it unlikely for people to die getting a nose job, cosmetic plastic surgery has been part of the global culture. By the 1920s, plastic surgery grew ever more common, and became associated with vanity. New techniques developed during World War II helped further increase demand for -- and types of -- the elective surgeries.

The era of minimally-invasive techniques has marked a new generation of plastic surgery options, with 14.6 million cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2012, up 5 percent since 2011. Here are the current most popular cosmetic surgeries, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Initially, cosmetic plastic surgery was not seen as a vanity procedure, said Emory University professor Sander Gilman, author of Making the Body Beautiful: A Cultural History of Aesthetic Surgery.

"Jews in Germany had their noses reduced so they could get jobs," Gilman said. As such, it was equally common for men and women to undergo plastic surgery.

"By the end of the 19th century there's a common understanding in the West that you can transform yourself, you can move classes -- and you can get a new nose," Gilman said.

Ear pinbacks were also popular at the time, to correct "prominent ears."

By the 1920s, the world of cosmetic surgery had shifted. By then, the first textbook about facial cosmetic surgery was in circulation, called "The Correction of Featural Imperfections" by Charles Miller. Women sought face lifts for reasons associated with vanity, not employment.

"It becomes something we associate with the upper middle class," Gilman said.

Everything from ivory to rubber has been used to augment breasts since the beginning of the 20th century. Nothing worked well (one of the first experimental substances, paraffin, had particularly bad results, with breasts that grew hard and lumpy and high rates of infection) until the Dow Corning Corporation developed the first silicone breast implants in 1961. Even though breast augmentation dropped 7 percent from 2011, it's still the No. 1. plastic surgery in the U.S., with 286,000 procedures in the U.S. in 2012. (It's followed by nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, liposuction, and facelifts.)

"People who have had significant weight loss are coming to grips with dealing with [their bodies]," said surgeon David Reath, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "Whether they've lost weight through weight reduction surgery or diet and exercise, if they were overweight for a long period, the

skin hangs around, and it’s very demoralizing. They're looking for a solution."

One solution appears to be a procedure called an upper arm lift, which involves either liposuction or brachioplasty, a surgery that removes loose skin is removed from the back of the arms.

Plus, "anytime we start talking about arms the image of the buff First Lady comes into mind," Reath said.

"This is up in every age group of men," Reath said. "I think it's because there’s a growing awareness that there is a solution to something that's extra troubling to men of all ages. It can have a tremendous psychological effect on young men going through puberty."

In fact, the number of men having cosmetic procedures in general has increased so dramatically that Gilman thinks it will once again even out to match the rate of women who undergo plastic surgery.

New minimally invasive and cheaper procedures such as Botox and other injectable fillers took off when the economy took a downturn, Reath said.

"You could take less time off from work [to recover]; year after year it has continued to grow," he said.

In fact, the popularity of such procedures is growing so fast that Gilman believes there will come a point in the next 10 years or so where people will wonder why you didn't have a cosmetic procedure if you have sagging skin under your jaw or lines around your eyes.

"It's becoming the standard," he said.