Less than a week into 2004, many people have probably already broken their No. 1 New Year's resolution — losing weight. NPR's Susan Stamberg talks with Dr. Walter Willett, a top nutrition expert at Harvard, who says the key to shedding pounds and keeping them off is finding a long-term diet that's also healthy. The conversation begins Stamberg's weekly series on food.
Willett is chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and author of 2001's Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy. Willett calls for rebuilding the U.S. government's Food Guide Pyramid, which advised Americans to stay away from fat and eat a diet based largely on carbohydrates.
But Willett also cautions against the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet, which has been hugely popular. Willett says eating too much beef, sausage and butter raises concerns about heart disease, cancer and other health problems. Willett advocates eating healthier forms of carbohydrates — whole-grain, high-fiber foods as well as healthier forms of fat — such as vegetable oils, nuts, avocados and moderate amounts of poultry and fish.
"We are looking for a way of eating," he says. "Not necessarily a diet where you lose a lot of weight in [the] short run, but a diet that helps us maintain weight for the long run and that we can remain healthy at the same time."