If you are obese, weight loss is one strategy to reduce the severity of obstructive sleep apnea. It is unlikely to cure sleep apnea, but it can help. And losing weight can produce many other benefits for your health and well-being.

But where do you begin? There are so many types of diets. Each one has its supporters. And it’s easy to be lured in by an advertisement – many of which make false claims.

Should you focus on a high-protein diet? High fat, low carb? High carb, low fat? How do you know?

A new, long-term study provides some helpful insight. It involved 811 adults. They had an average age of 51 and an average body mass index (BMI) of 33.

Each person was assigned to one of four types of diets. The diets allowed differing portions of fat, protein and carbs. All of the diets had the same goals for reducing calories. The diets also were heart healthy: low in saturated fat and cholesterol, high in fiber.

Each diet plan included group counseling sessions two to three times per month. Individual sessions were held every two months. The common goal for activity was to get 90 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Which diet was the winner? It was a tie. The amount of weight loss after two years was similar for all four diets. On each diet plan, participants lost an average of eight to 10 pounds. They also reduced their waistlines by one to three inches. Most of the weight loss – an average of 13 pounds – occurred in the first six months.

Maintaining the weight loss was harder. The majority of people slowly regained some weight after 12 months. About 23 percent of people continued to lose weight from six months to two years.

Eighty percent of people completed the two-year study. For each diet about 31 to 37 percent of people lost at least 5 percent of their body weight. Fourteen to 15 percent lost at least 10 percent of their body weight.

Dramatic weight loss was rare. Only two to four percent of people in each diet group lost 44 pounds or more.

Attendance at counseling sessions was related to weight loss. People who attended two-thirds of the sessions lost almost 20 pounds over two years.

So which should it be – high protein? High carbs? The results suggest that any type of heart-healthy, low-calorie diet can be effective. For long-term success the authors recommend choosing a diet that fits your personal preferences.

Weight loss is not a quick fix. So it is important to continue CPAP therapy for sleep apnea while on any diet program.

Get tips for setting goals for weight loss and choosing a weight-loss program from the Federal Trade Commission.