Dieting Your Way to Illness

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Lose 30 pounds in 30 days! Watch the pounds fall off!” is says. Yes, it’s that time of year when the diet industry ramps up efforts (this is one of four peak annual weight loss times). Pre-holiday weight loss is often a goal, so ads like this lure people to fast and furious efforts, despite repeated warnings from health professionals. We want to believe that this time and this plan is the magic solution. I'm not picking on any one diet system or company, but if you’ve ever been frustrated enough with your physical health to consider programs like this, please glance at the following health facts and know that this is not a healthy option for weight loss or weight management:
  • Over $20 billion is spent each year on weight loss. Programs, pills, diets, shakes, wraps, coaches, health clubs, trackers, books, dvd’s, diet soda. You get the idea. We’re desperate for a passive solution. One that doesn’t interfere with our daily living too much.
  • Within one year, 95% of dieters regain the weight.
  • We are getting more obese, not less, with 29 million of us having diabetes, and another 8 million undiagnosed. That’s over 9% of the US population. Want the rates for heart disease, the leading cause of death? Our top health risks are often referred to as lifestyle diseases, as risks can be reduced through changes in health behaviors.
  • The FTC cannot police every weight loss program. Products like Amberen, which claims to restore hormonal balance, reduce fat, and increase metabolism, get slapped with fines, but the fines are often worth the deception, as the marketing message was firmly planted by blogging partners. (Amberen sold $65 million of product to US women in three years.)
I tell you this to acknowledge that weight loss is challenging. We need answers and we need them soon. But crash dieting does more harm than good and it keep us on the obesity merry-go-round. I encourage you to explore the concepts and realities of your personal health journey. While the simplified prescription is changing diet and activity patterns, making sustainable changes is more complex, and highly personal. You’ve heard me talk about biological, environmental, and behavioral influences and the internal/external goals that drive our decisions. What it means is that your action plan may not look like your neighbor’s, but it will be driven by a purpose that means everything to you.