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9 Hard Truths About Weight Loss

Posted by Jerry De Luca on Tuesday, June 6, 2017


Hard Facts:

----The weight loss industry in America is estimated to rake in more than $66 billion annually.

----40% of Americans are clinically obese. 155 million overall are overweight to some degree.

----2.2 billion people globally are overweight.

----Too much body fat significantly increases the risks for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, respiratory problems, depression and certain cancers.

----As of 2017 in the U.S. obesity causes more preventable deaths than smoking.

In 2016 the National Institute of Health spent approximately $931 million for weight loss and obesity research. Scientists are gaining better insights into why losing weight and keeping it off is so difficult for so many. Some of their more noteworthy findings are:

1) The old weight loss beliefs of rigorous exercise and burning more calories than you take in just doesn’t work in the long run for the majority of committed dieters and fitness buffs.

2) The exact same diet may work wonders for one person and be almost completely useless for someone else. Every person’s unique body composition is the determining factor. Lack of willpower is often blamed for failure.  Many people would be happy to know their resolve and self-discipline is fine, their biology let them down.

3) The answer to successful weight loss seems to be highly personalized diets and fitness programs rather than popular diets and fitness programs for the masses.

4) A 23 year study by the National Weight Control Registry, conducted by Brown University and the University of Colorado, has more than 10,000 participants in all 50 states. Each person has lost on average 66 pounds and maintained their healthy weight for at least five years. A synopsis of their findings:

“The most revealing detail about the registry: everyone on the list has lost significant amounts of weight--but in different ways. About 45% of them say they lost weight following various diets on their own, for instance, and 55% say they used a structured weight-loss program. And most of them had to try more than one diet before the weight loss stuck.

“The researchers have identified some similarities among them: 98% of the people in the study say they modified their diet in some way, with most cutting back on how much they ate in a given day. Another through line: 94% increased their physical activity, and the most popular form of exercise was walking.”

One of the researchers reported the participants exercise about one hour per day on average and watch less than 10 hours of TV weekly:

"There's nothing magical about what they do. Some people emphasize exercise more than others, some follow low-carb diets, and some follow low-fat diets. The one commonality is that they had to make changes in their everyday behaviors."

5)   Motivation is enormously important for successful long-term weight loss. Many of the National Weight Control Registry participants were not driven by the vanity of a well-proportioned body. Their impetus was wanting more quality time with family and friends in their later years, a general desire for a long and thriving life, and in many cases a health emergency that scared them to their senses.

6) The individualized approach is effectively used by The Bariatric Medical Institute in Ontario, Canada. Not just biology but budget, psychology and behavioral strategies are emphasized:

“In order to successfully lose weight and maintain weight loss, you will need to develop strategies to overcome your behavioral urges by life-layering new behaviors over your old habits. For example, if you are an emotional eater, you need to have a set of alternate behaviors that you can access if the urge to emotionally eat tugs at your stomach. If you can life-layer successfully for 6 to 18 months, your behaviors will no longer be your alternates but rather your new habits. For emotional eaters, alternate behaviors may be as simple as going for a walk, writing a journal entry, calling a close friend or weight-loss support buddy, cleaning a part of your home, developing or cultivating a new hobby, taking a shower, or running through a to-do list instead of having that emotional snack …….. Because we are all individuals, there is no one simple instruction or set of life-layers that we can give you, and what works for you may well not work for someone else.”

7) The future of weight loss may lie in the gut - the microbiome - and the precise way it influences the body to metabolize food. One day doctors will prescribe highly individualized diets for people according to their body’s unique response to different foods:

“Each of us is home to over 100 trillion microbes that reside in our gut, skin, mouth, and other body locations. These microbes, collectively known as the human microbiome, are a collection of thousands of species of bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses, which together contain 100-times more genes than are present in the human genome.

“Our microbiome has an enormous effect on our physiology and health. On the one hand, our microbes benefit us by providing many essential nutrients and vitamins that are not directly available from our food, and by protecting us from harmful disease-causing bacteria that invade our body. On the other hand, changes in the microbiome induced by our lifestyle can lead to many illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, digestive diseases, and neurological disorders. As one example of the importance of the microbiome, the transplantation of the microbiome from an obese mouse into a lean mouse was shown to be enough for inducing obesity in the lean mouse in a matter of several weeks and without any change in the food intake of the mouse. As research progresses, we can see more and more evidence that changing a disrupted microbiome composition to a more healthy one may be a mean by which numerous diseases may be treated.”

8)  Current research has been warning consumers not to fall for the latest probiotics weight loss scams:

“There’s little published clinical work showing that probiotics will help promote weight loss, as some manufacturers claim or imply. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 found that people who drank fermented milk with a particular strain of Lactobacillus gasseri for 12 weeks had a reduction in abdominal fat and body weight, compared to those consuming a control drink. Another study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods in November 2012, found that people who consumed yogurt containing two “novel” strains of probiotics experienced small losses in body fat, but no changes in body weight.

“Probiotics are a promising field of research and may one day be used to treat or help prevent many disorders. But there’s not enough solid evidence to recommend their widespread use. Vague claims that probiotics ‘support good digestive health’ are meaningless. Larger, longer and better studies are needed to test specific strains for specific conditions and to determine the proper doses and regimens.”

9) Unscrupulous marketers are taking advantage of the emerging science of individualized diet plans and exercise. Numerous websites advertise genetic testing that promise a more personalized weight loss program. Professor in law and public health at the University of Alberta and the Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, Timothy Caulfield isn’t buying it:

“I am willing to bet that researchers will never find an all-powerful ‘fat gene’ (or genes) that we can blame for our weight-gain troubles. There will never be a gene therapy that will allow us to eat what we want. Genetic testing is not the answer.

“(It) is pretty obvious that the current obesity problem can't be blamed on genetics alone. While genes play a role in the weight-gain story, they are just one piece of the puzzle. Our genes haven't changed much for thousands of years. Our environment has. Yes, some individuals may have been dealt genes that may make it particularly difficult to deal with our obesogenic world -- a love of fatty food, a slightly slower metabolism, a dislike of exercise (possibly genetic?). But the environment hugely influences all of these factors. Advertising, poor access to healthy food alternatives, socioeconomic conditions, sleep habits, work environments, and even the bacteria that lives in our gut, seem likely -- either alone or in combination -- to overwhelm the role that genetics might play.”


Alexandra Sifferlin, “The Weight Loss Trap: Why Your Diet Isn't Working”  http://time.com/4793832/the-weight-loss-trap/  

Bariatric Medical Institute   http://bmimedical.ca/behaviour

The Personalized Nutrition Project   http://personalnutrition.org/AboutGuests.aspx

Timothy Caulfield, “Want to Lose Weight? Stop Looking For the Fat Gene”  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/timothy-caulfield/lose-weight-new-year_b_1179848.html

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Photo: https://cdn.surfnetkids.com/tech/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/bigstock-Truth-81698906-720x423.jpg

Jerry De Luca is a Christian freelance writer who loves perusing dozens of interesting and informative publications. When he finds any useful info he summarizes it, taking the main points, and creates a (hopefully) helpful blog post.


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