Another Look at Long-Term Weight Loss

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As we have seen, when a person intentionally loses 5% of their original body weight, and maintains that loss, this is considered a success, and 10% is an epic win. In certain cases, even 3% can be declared a victory.

Of course, no 300-pound person should be discouraged from making the attempt, but how much better is it, really, to end up 9, 15, or even 30 pounds lighter? That’s still 270, which is considered to be in the healthy range only if the person is seven feet tall, which few are.

Even to achieve modest results, the cost is unmanageable for many people, and not just the price in cash for nutrition classes, gym memberships, and special delivered meals. Mental stress takes a toll. A person listens to a friend who swears it’s all in what you eat; and to another friend who affirms that you must sweat for at least an hour a day; and another who advises you to get your gut bugs squared away; and the one who says to forget all that other stuff because the only answer is meditation.

It gets worse

Of course, if a person needs more reason to be discouraged, there is always the set-point theory, which says if the body wants to be a certain size, the human will can do nothing about it. If all else fails, a person can embrace obesity from the vantage point of identity politics, and turn it into a matter of pride.

Some obese people are overwhelmed by conflicting advice and, even worse, so destructively influenced by advertising that they spend thousands of dollars on equipment they will never use. Everything is just too much of a hassle. Consequently, many people give up before even starting a weight-loss journey.

Clarification

One reason to appreciate a paper titled “Long-term Effects of Dieting: Is Weight Loss Related to Health?” is the authors’ generosity of spirit. A. Janet Tomiyama, Britt Ahlstrom, and Traci Mann assume that their report will be read by people who are not medical or science professionals, so they clarify:

The word “diet” has numerous meanings, which include both “weight-loss diets” and “healthy diets” with no intent of weight loss.

When a certain eating regimen is prescribed, the intent could be a number of different things. For a hospitalized patient, the doctor orders up a clear liquid diet, a diabetic diet, or whatever. Some hyperactive children respond well to a restricted diet.

Also, diet may be faith-based, with a whole different set of rules. In the broadest sense, a creature’s diet is whatever that creature eats. But somehow, in the popular imagination, the word has been whittled down to where “on a diet” means you want to reclaim your true bikini body that is hiding in there somewhere.

Whenever people say that more education is needed, they are both right and wrong. As Dr. Pretlow has learned, most American kids feel that they know enough about calories and vitamins. They don’t need more education about those things.

There is, however, an urgent need for more education about such practical aspects as how to find reputable answers on the Internet, and how to recognize advertising claims for what they are. Especially, people need to know more about the inner workings of their own minds, and how to use their energy for self-betterment rather than self-destruction.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Long-term Effects of Dieting: Is Weight Loss Related to Health?,” Dishlab.org, 2013
Photo credit: Leonard J Matthews via Visualhunt/CC BY-ND

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