Obesity

Dieting Makes You Fat

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A comprehensive meta-study from UCLA of 31 other studies of dieters found that 83 percent of people who go on diets eventually put on more weight than before they started. What's more, the wear and tear associated with yo-yo weight loss and gain makes them much less healthy for trying. This would include the low-fat, high-fiber diet recommended by the U.S. government.

I'm generally skeptical of meta studies, but this one carries the ring of truth. Obesity critics like Paul Campos have pointed out that if you look at epidemiological tables, you'll see that black women tend to skew higher on the obesity-mortality curve than white women. That is, black women can carry more weight without much of any additional risk to their health. In fact, black women can score well into the "obese" levels of the BMI with no effect whatsoever on mortality.

Studies also show that black women don't have nearly the body image problems that white women do–they obsess less about weight, and have much, much lower incidence of eating disorders, for example. All of which strongly suggests that the (slight) increase risk in mortality that comes with moderate obesity may well be more related to constant dieting and fretting over body weight than the weight itself. Of course, this hasn't stopped hysterics like the American Obesity Association (a front group for pharmaceutical companies pushing anti-fat drugs) from trying to scare black women into dieting, anyway.

All of which could mean that all of these calls from ant-fat activists and PR campaigns from the U.S. government encourage people to lose weight aren't just meddlesome. If 83 percent of people who try to lose weight fail, and are less healthy for trying, these sorts of messages could well be doing harm. As the dietitian in the Guardian article suggests, you're far better off just trying to get some cardiovascular exercise several times per week and not worrying so much about weight.

NEXT: English Freedom, Circa 1700

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  1. you’re far better off just trying to get some cardiovascular exercise several times per week and not worrying so much about weight.

    Amen. There’s a thought I wish would get passed around a little more.

  2. So, do skinny people actually get help when they go to the doctor? I’m Type 1 diabetic (hence the nickname) and I’m not as fat as a house or anything, but everything I go to the doctor about is related back to my weight. I was once told that my double pneumonia was weight-related, as was a pinched nerve in my leg.

    I think doctors are obsessed with weight as a way to not do their damn jobs. They bitch and moan about weight and do nothing to treat what might actually be wrong with you. I go to the doctor to be fixed, not to be lectured. I have and mother and a wife to nag me. Would you ever go back to a mechanic that lectured you for 1/2 hour about the way you drive, and didn’t fix your radiator?

    And, if you think they are bad now about nagging you about “preventive” causes of illness, wait for socialized medicine…

  3. I have a problem with the use of statistics in this post.

    My first issue is with the “83% gain it back” number. I know this is a truism and similar numbers are offered up routinely. I think it fails to take into account the fact that the people who would choose to go on diets are usually people who are gaining weight as they age. This means that the diets may be a brief interruption or rear-guard action [forgive the pun] against a longer and broader trend of weight gain. It’s really impossible for the statistics to tell us if the 180 pound man who gains 30 pounds, diets and loses it all, and then gains it back again for a final weight of 210 wouldn’t actually weigh 240 or more if he had never dieted and broken the chain of weight gain. Until the statistics can tell us that, they are of limited utility.

    My other problem is with the black female mortality statistic. I’d need to know where both the obese and the non-obese stats stand relative to whites before I can really evaluate it. If black female mortality is worse than white female mortality for both obese and fit blacks, that stat doesn’t prove that obesity isn’t a big deal – it just proves that being black in America is statistically even worse than being obese.

  4. I like big butts and I cannot lie…you other brothers can’t deny…

  5. “Diets” in the sentence “people who go on diets eventually put on more weight than before they started” is not the same thing as “diet” in the sentence “the low-fat, high-fiber diet recommended by the U.S. government.”

    The former refers to a program of restricted eating for a period of time for the purpose of losing weight. The latter refers to the eating habits one utilizes in one’s ordinary life. As a matter of fact, the high-fiber, low-fat diet recommended by the U.S. government, which is supposed to be the ordinary eating habits someone adopts througout their adult life, is recommended as an alternative to “dieting,” in the sense of cutting one’s food intake for a period of time to lose weight.

    So no, the “dieting” described in the UCLA study does not include the eating habits recommended by the U.S. government.

  6. Yes, I believe joe is correct. I have a diet, in its strict sense, of beer and pork products. Also, people who have a weight problem are the ones to go on diets for the purpose of weight loss, so it is not surprising that they would gain weight if they fail. It would be like saying that trying to restrict your drinking leads to alcoholism, even though those who make a conscious effort to do so might already have a drinking problem.

  7. SugarFree,

    I can relate with your post. Few years ago, I threw out my back while doing yard-work. I had been going to the gym 4-5 times a week, put on a bit of muscle, but could never quite lose the gut. So, I throw out my back while lifting a large, heavy trashcan packed to the rim with leaves, dirt, twigs, etc. I go to the chiropractor and one of the first things he tells me is that carrying around that extra weight (my gut) could have been a contributing factor. I went to a different chiropractor after that. It was the awkward lifting of heavy trashcan, not my gut, that messed up my back!

    Anyways, I’ve always been a firm believer that a good exercise routine is the best way to stay fit – more than dieting alone.

  8. Maybe the chiropractor messed up your back. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. jimmydageek,

    That’s me, fairly muscular with a gut. Have they ever done your BMI? You will read pretty well along in the obese end of the scale.

  10. The more I read this stuff the more I am convinced that the dangers of obesity is a product of bad causality. Yes, people who are fat don’t live as long. But that may be coincidence with the fact that people who are fat are also sedintary and don’t excercise. It is the lack of exercise that kills you not the weight. I agree with Warrren.

  11. The former refers to a program of restricted eating for a period of time for the purpose of losing weight. The latter refers to the eating habits one utilizes in one’s ordinary life. i>

    Not so sure (without RTFA, of course) that this is a distinction with a difference. The low-fat high-fiber “diet”, the low-carb “diet”, and others are all restricted eating programs that have as one of their purposes losing weight.

    The diet that you do for limited time is a “crash” diet, but I think most weight loss diets these days are supposed to be lifetime eating plans, although they may have intro phase intended to get you to your target weight. I’m not a big diet guru or anything, but I don’t think any of the major diet plans out there say anything like “Do this for a couple of months, and then go back to hitting the cheeseburgers.”

  12. It sounds like most people here simply don’t have the willpower to simply eat less. That’s all it takes to maintain a good weight. Yeah, exercise helps tremendously, but as long as you simply eat less (and don’t eat garbage), you can stay as thin as you like (although muscle tone comes only from exercise). Eating less positively works. It’s a basic law of physics. Eat fewer calories than you burn, and you’ll lose weight. I always have to laugh at people trying to dance around this fact, simply because they themselves do not have the willpower to shove less food into their faces.

  13. Yes, SugarFree, my BMI is whack! I don’t give any thought to any BMI stuff.

  14. Joe,

    The Ornish diet is notoriously difficult to stick to. And yes, people who switch to it are “dieting” in the sense that they’re restricting the amount of calories they’re ingesting and they’re changing their eating habits.

    Calling it a “lifestyle” or “lifelong eating habits” doesn’t change any of that. That’s just a way for proponents of the diet to assume an air of superiority. The Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig people all do the same thing–“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!”

    Bottom line for Ornish: It does represent reduction in calories for most people. And most people can’t maintain it. Which means whether you want to call it a diet, a lifestyle, or a series of “lifelong eating habits,” it’s still not helping people lose weight. And most people who try it and fail still end up gaining weight.

  15. Frank,

    You might lose weight by eating less, but that does not make you any healthier. Eating less means you are taking in less nutrients as well as less calories. So, don’t confuse being thinner with being healthier.

  16. Years ago, I lost 55 pounds on a low-carb diet. I stayed pretty thin for a couple of years, tried to make it a “lifestyle” but eventually fell off the wagon, hard.
    Now I am almost exactly the same weight that I was at the start of the whole process almost exactly five years after I went on the diet. With the added bonus that I am five years older.
    Am I worse off for having done that? I can’t say. Who knows what miseries I would have suffered had I not been thinner for that period of time.

  17. Radley, RC,

    The UCLA study looked at people who “went on diets” – crash diets, as RC calls them. That is not what the government is recommending.

    Now, Radley, whether the government’s recommendations are too stringent fo most people to stick to is another matter. You still conflated “going on a diet” with “eating healthy.”

  18. You still conflated “going on a diet” with “eating healthy.”

    Tomayto, tomahto. I weigh 40 pounds less than I did 4 years ago. 3.9 mph treadmill walking + no potayto, potahtoes.

  19. The Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig people all do the same thing–“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!”

    IOW, “You have to pay us forever.”

    you’re far better off just trying to get some cardiovascular exercise several times per week and not worrying so much about weight.

    I do. Blogging counts as “cardiovascular exercise,” right?

  20. When I was in college I had BP of between 102/56 and 110/60 in general, and a resting heartrate that sat around 55 on most days. Now I’m more like 120/70 and 72, respectively. That’s daytime measurements, obviously.

    Funny thing is that I eat a lot better now than I used to: less fast food, less take out, a lot more fruits and vegetables, etc. The reason? Well, I no longer spend an hour or two every day walking around a 300 acre campus between classes. I also no longer walk four miles (one way) back and forth to campus every day. It’s that bloody simple. Fortunately we just got a dog and I’ve been walking her for an hour or so most days, get my cardio health back a little. Point is: IT’S THAT BLOODY SIMPLE.

  21. It sounds like most people here simply don’t have the willpower to simply eat less. That’s all it takes to maintain a good weight.

    Yeah, you’re a paragon of virtue. If it were as simple as “just eating less,” more people would lose weight. In a technical sense you’re right; in a broader sense, you’re an asshole. People are hard-wired by evolution to eat lots when food is available. For most of human history, we had active lifestyles, coupled with limited food supplies. Now, in the modern developed world, we have unlimited food supplies and limited opportunity for exercise. It’s a wonder more of us aren’t fat.

    For some people, it’s as easy as deciding, “I’m going to eat less,” and then doing it. You’re one of those people. Bully for you. Telling other people that they just lack willpower, or that it’s actually easy, is just assholish. Obviously that doesn’t work for them; they need extra motivation, or rules to follow on a diet, or something. Talking down to them because they find it difficult to lose weight doesn’t help anyone.

    This meme among libertarians that eating less, or quitting drugs, or getting a better job, or any number of other things are “easy” because “I did it, and all it took was willpower,” is one of our greatest problems. For most people, it’s not easy to do one or more of those things. It doesn’t just take willpower; it’s quite a bit more complicated than that. This isn’t some bleeding heart, we can’t hurt their feelings thing. This is an acknowledgment of human frailty. If people want to get help to change their lives, more power to them. So long as it isn’t coerced by the government, I see no reason to make fun of them or talk down to them or anything of the sort. They’re making a choice to change their lives, and to take what control of it they can. Libertarians should applaud that.

  22. I should say, I thought is a was a good post, overall. Discussions of weight, health, and eating habits have become very skewed, and Radley raises a lot of good points.

    I think that what’s going on is that researchers, government officials, and journalists are falling into the trap of treating factors which can be easily quantified – in this case BMI and weight – as more important or illustrative of the underlying facts.

  23. “I’m generally skeptical of meta studies”

    You should be skeptical of all studies, but if conducted correctly meta-studies are the best source of evidence available.

    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/315/7121/1533

  24. Get more exercise…… Oddly that’s a more reassuring thought to me than always being hungry to get leaner.

  25. Grylliade –
    It seems that your problem with people who think it’s “easy” to change their lifestyles/diets is that you presume that they have other beliefs that you do not agree with. First of all, I’d like to point out that “getting a better job” is not at all parallel in reasoning to eating less because it requires another person to accomplish. Eating less/exercising more is a matter of personal responsibility, and only personal responsibility for *most* people.

    I have lost 50 pounds over the past 3 1/2 years (though I’ve been at the same weight for a year now). I have never been this thin since I was in the 8th grade and I don’t find it easy. I also still have a *little* way to go. The thing is, it took me 2 ? years to lose 50 lbs, not 6 months. It started with eliminating meat from my diet, progressed to walking all over the place (a couple of miles a day), eventually I got thin enough to replace the walking with taking dance, yoga, and capoeira classes, and then racquetball, and then running? the point is, it really does need to be a lifestyle change. I’ve been more sedentary lately, but have still maintained my weight and some reasonable level of cardio exercise. It’s a matter of serious personal growth for me.

    Fluffy makes some good points about statistical validity. But those of you who are like ” you people who say it’s easy just don’t know what it’s like to have legitimate weight problems” or “sure it was easy for you because you did it, but it’s just not that easy for other people,” are the real insensitive people here. It’s one thing to attack people who are fat because they sit on their duff and have trouble controlling themselves, but it takes a lot of nerve to attack people who used to be fat because they sat on their duff and had trouble controlling themselves but managed to turn it around for themselves through self-discipline and major lifestyle changes.

  26. eat less
    excercise more
    rinse
    repeat

    or dinitrophenol(DNP)

  27. grylliade-

    You made some very good points in your post. However, you also said something equivalent to “This is why libertarians will never get anywhere”:

    This meme among libertarians that eating less, or quitting drugs, or getting a better job, or any number of other things are “easy” because “I did it, and all it took was willpower,” is one of our greatest problems.

    It is now obligatory that we all take a drink!

    ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. you’re far better off just trying to get some cardiovascular exercise several times per week and not worrying so much about weight.

    Damn straight! That’s what the White Shadow always used to say, and he always knew the right thing to do!

  29. Cardiovascular exercise should be part of a healthy exercise regimen but shouldn’t be a large part of it.

    You can eat like a pig and still look good if you lift weights. Strenuous weight lifting will generally increase your muscle mass, bigger muscles require more calories. If you’re lifting weights and not adding muscle mass you’re doing it wrong. Plus it has a cardio component- I’d be suprised if I wasn’t burning more calories than the treadmillers- I certianly look worse after I’m done.

  30. BMI is all a bunch of cooked-up number BS. I can run 5 miles at a clip (granted it’s a 10-11 minute pace), knock out about 100 push-ups and sit-ups, each in 2 minutes, and run 1.5 miles in less than 14.5 minutes. At 5’9″ and 200 lbs, I’m certainly no “elite athlete,” but there’s no way I’m “overweight” or “obese,” as the BMI claims.

    Of course, the BMI is caveated about 6 ways from Sunday that make it essentially a useless number: “The correlation between the BMI number and body fatness is fairly strong; however the correlation varies by sex, race, and age… At the same BMI, women tend to have more body fat than men. At the same BMI, older people, on average, tend to have more body fat than younger adults. Highly trained athletes may have a high BMI because of increased muscularity rather than increased body fatness.”

    But the distinction between a helathy diet and “dieting” as a verb meaning “weird, temporary dietary habits intended to induce weight loss” is certainly worth making. But it doesn’t change the fact that there’s an awful lot of fear-mongering…

  31. The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.

  32. I think that what’s going on is that researchers, government officials, and journalists are falling into the trap of treating factors which can be easily quantified – in this case BMI and weight – as more important or illustrative of the underlying facts.

    That’s not falling into a trap, it’s laziness.

  33. Anyone ever wonder if maybe there’s a gereral degradation of the food supply (i.e. lower nutrient density for given amount of calories), which causes fullness triggers to fail to fire, in turn causing people to either eat too many calories or have difficulty eating fewer? You know, like an agriculture system that tries to get the most yield from the fewest, cheapest inputs?

  34. Mark Twain –
    I don’t agree with that. I eat and drink all kinds of things that I like, and they’re not ridiculous low-fat low-carb whatever frankensteins. The thing is that you have to eat them sparingly, and compensate for them in the rest of your diet.
    As for doing what you’d rather not, are you referring to exercise? I’ve found a great passion for tennis, racquetball, capoeira, and running, and would rather do any of those things than sit around on the computer most days.

  35. What ever happened with those patches you put on your skin, which would electrically stimulate your muscles and allow you to exercise while sitting on the couch watching TV?

    That sounded like a sweet deal.

  36. Excess weight can cause an increase in blood pressure as well, though, which can be improved by losing the weight. It can also be improved by cardiovascular exercise as well.

    Also, exercise is great, but surprisingly doesn’t play as big a role in weight loss as most people think. Most of our weight is determined by 1) genetics and 2) caloric intake. Unless you have a very active job (construction, farmer, etc), your activity is unlikely to make a big difference in your weight (it will improve your health, of course).

    And while I agree that it is arrogant to tell people that it just requires willpower to lose weight, to say that all of these people have tried and it is just too hard is BS as well. There’s a reason we have the fattest nation in the world, and it’s largely because most people sit on their asses and eat too much.

  37. crimethink,

    My chiropractor would use those patches on my back. They completely helped me relax while they were on. Incidentally, I never grew bulging back muscles by using them.

  38. Well Dude, we just don’t know.

  39. There’s a reason we have the fattest nation in the world, and it’s largely because most people sit on their asses and eat too much.

    Actually, we don’t (isn’t it Samoa or someplace nearby? further proof that genetics play the major role), but yes it’s true we mostly sit on our asses and eat too much. Sucks being rich, doesn’t it? And now with news trickling in that being fat isn’t the end of the world like we’ve been led to believe all our lives, one has to wonder why we should give a fuck about being the “fattest nation in the world” any more.

  40. What ever happened with those patches you put on your skin, which would electrically stimulate…

    Somebody else…please…I can’t…

  41. umm.. can someone explain to me how if it’s all about genetics, that we as a nation of mixed cultural immigration are consistently fat in comparison to many of the nations from which our ancestors came? Can someone explain to me how a person from Austria living in the US for a year gains 25 pounds, and then loses it all again promptly after returning to Austria? Similarly, how I lost 20 pounds living in France for 6 months?

    My suppositions: It’s a combination of diet, exercise, and food quality (as dude keenly observed)

    Genetics, while to blame for the fact that I can’t just eat Burger King 5 times a week and still be thin, or why I can’t be 6’2″ and lanky, is a small fraction of the whole story by my personal observations

  42. jimmydageek,

    Did a regular doctor look at your back after “what came to be known in family legend as The Trashcan Incident“? I blew my shoulder out weightlifting and keep re-injuring it playing tennis and disc golf. You go to them with an exercise injury and they won’t give two shits in a paper cup about it. (And I have very good health insurance through work.)

    As for the “just eat less” is the answer to everything crowd… try living on a 1200 calories a day diet for three months and not losing any weight. See what that does for your “willpower.” The doctors refuse to even consider there might be some underlying medical condition for my weight, they just blame “willpower.”

    (By the way, I’m 5’10” and weigh 225. The doctors act like I’m barely-able-move Buddha fat when they examine me… and a few of them are obsessed with my neck size… neck perverts.)

  43. on willpower . . .

    I once read a comment that making “fat” people diet was roughly equal to making alcoholics drink threes shots a day. Any less and you die. Any more and you die.

  44. High fructose corn syrup is the food ingredient most responsible for the obesity problem in this country in my opinion.

    BTW, I am currently on 3 diets.

    i was starvin on just the one.

  45. Wow, I think I agree with Joe.

    Big difference between “diet” referring to the normal everyday way of life/eating and yo-yo “diets.”

    I am not saying the government recommended diet is the best or anything..Though generally high fiber, lowfat is better than most.

  46. Also for me there is a difference between being philosophically and morally opposed (which I am) to the Nannies and Food Police and being in denial and/or trying to justify that being fat and eating crap is actually Healthy.

    I used to be a “F Morgan Spurlock, I’m gonna eat fast food 8 times a day and eat 5 lb rare steaks,etc” type of a guy. But the more I live/grow/think aout these things- health and quality of life for me involves being lean ( which has the nice side effects of having a longer penis, being able to run and jump, dunk a basketball,etc) and healthy and not being an overeating fatass just be a rebel.

  47. Good post, and generally good discussion.

    SugarFree, I hear you about the “it’s your fault” school of medicine. I have gum disease, which really should mean I go get blindingly painful treatments every six months and $1,000 a pop. My last hygenist, in response to my complaining that it really hurt to have someone stick probes in my gums replied, “Remember whose fault this is. If you had taken care of yourself, you wouldn’t be here.” Now, there is quite a bit of truth in that statement, but it does no bloody good to tell me about it now. So, I haven’t been back in a couple of years. Anyone knows a good, non-judgmental dentist in Austin, Texas, email me.

    As for the dieting thing, I think joe, et al, who said that activity level was more important were onto something. Most people think “dieting” does mean restricting food intake or following some marginally insane food regimen with the goal of looking good in a bikini. It has little to do with actually improving one’s level of health. Thing is, plenty of people look fat by the standards of Vogue but are still in perfect health, and plenty of supermodels maintain their nonweight by being chain-smoking bulimic junkies. This says something about the average consumer and shouldn’t be address by anyone but late-night comedians, but it’s worth noting.

  48. High fructose corn syrup is the food ingredient most responsible for the obesity problem in this country in my opinion.”

    Corn syrup doesn’t fatten people, people do.

  49. umm.. can someone explain to me how if it’s all about genetics, that we as a nation of mixed cultural immigration are consistently fat in comparison to many of the nations from which our ancestors came?

    We eat more. My point is, I believe it’s not the big deal the media keep telling us it is with their ubiquitous titillating displays of obese midsections. And in any case, it’s clear that a large part of the public is willing to trade a few years of later life for a sedentary present.

  50. My father used to say that if you are overweight and want to lose weight you need to remember that it took time to gain the weight. It’s going to take time to take it off too.

    As in many other things people want immediate gratification.

  51. It is simply why losing weight is difficult. Heavy people have trained themselves, three (or more (or many more)) times per day, to eat a certain way and gain satisfaction from it. By the time they decide to diet, it’s usually YEARS after they have been trained that way. Daily. Maybe even hourly.

    What kind of “diet” can counter that kind of training? A much, much, much more powerful psychological motivator must be used to have any hope of working. “You’re going to die young” isn’t powerful enough. Something like a ten-minute-lethal food allergy works better.

    I think it’s practically impossible to lose weight. And everyone knows what “lose weight” means: “get skinny and never get fat again no matter what choices I make in the future”. Forget it. Enjoy life instead.

  52. Most people think “dieting” does mean restricting food intake or following some marginally insane food regimen with the goal of looking good in a bikini.

    I don’t even want to think about the diet that would leave me looking good in a bikini.

  53. Thanks for teaching me this:

    ??????

    That’s so cool!

  54. If you follow Durk Pearson’s life extension program, you can be fat with no dire consequences. By any measure, I’m obese, but I my cardiovascular condition is the same as a thin person’s.

  55. Kind of on the wrong thread, but there ain’t really a right one.

  56. “We eat more. My point is, I believe it’s not the big deal the media keep telling us it is with their ubiquitous titillating displays of obese midsections. And in any case, it’s clear that a large part of the public is willing to trade a few years of later life for a sedentary present.”

    That doesn’t really address the question I asked, and doesn’t address your statement that “genetics play the major role.”

    I never said that people weren’t willing to sacrifice length-of-life for a sedentary present, and that is their choice to do so. But if they’re so satisfied with this choice, why complain about it? The truth is, most obese or otherwise largely overweight people don’t want to be even remotely overweight. They just don’t have the right information to turn that around, and it doesn’t help them for people to be like “It’s OK, it’s just genetics, it’s not your fault, there’s little you can do about it anyway, so you might as well be happy with your body the way it is.” Yeah, that line of reasoning can be applied to all sorts of vices, but I highly doubt it ever results in the person its told to actually believing that it’s ok.. now they just believe that they can’t do anything about it.

  57. But if they’re so satisfied with this choice, why complain about it?

    They complain because they’ve been conditioned by society to constantly fret about their weight.

    it doesn’t help them for people to be like “It’s OK, it’s just genetics, it’s not your fault, there’s little you can do about it anyway, so you might as well be happy with your body the way it is.”

    Nor does it help to give them false hope with all these diets that don’t work, causing constant worry and yo-yo’ing in weight. I think we’re all agreed that losing weight is not easy and takes more willpower than most people can give, especially if you’re fighting genetics. Why not take a more sensible approach by emphasizing tips for healthy living that take into consideration that these people probably aren’t going to lose any weight?

  58. After a couple of sedentary years in a frigid climate, I had put on over 40 pounds, and didn’t know where to begin. I’ve never been a firm believer in any of the popular weight loss schemes, so I simply decided to go sugar free with most products, which lowered my calories, and well, I exercised more. Now, it’s nothing religious, or fanatical. I simply started paying closer attention to my calorie intake. I had never had a reason to do that before. If I ate more, then I usually ran or walked a little longer. If I didn’t feel like working out on a particular day, then I held off on a favorite snack.

    Now, when I speak to others about weight loss I am astounded at how few people truly understand the idea that extra calories are what causes weight gain.

    Using any calorie calculator, while not perfectly accurate, can give most people a ball park figure of their daily needs, and they can then plan accordingly. Trial and error usually suffices as well.

    It’s simple, yet people have been so hypnotized by the fad, diet market that they actually think that fat and carbs directly make them fat. In reality, these diets correspond to a drop in calories, but also limit people’s choices, which is also a quality of life issue.

    If more people simply accepted, or realized that they can pretty much eat what they like with portion control and exercise, then we might not be witnessing so much frustration on the issue.

    The damaged caused by nutrition priests seems beyond repair, yet most people find their idealistic programs fairly daunting. The more you try to adhere to the idea of perfection in a diet, the less likely you are to succeed. Hence, the problem.

  59. Reason Me This

    What you say is aboslutely rational. But it occurs to me that the market economy depends on gullibility and irrationality. The fad diet industry makes billions. If everybody were rational, the whole thing would go belly up. Reasonable eating is for elites; everybody else goes on fad diets and swallows expensive but ultimately worthless supplements.

  60. highnumber,

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    Your move.

  61. So sorry, the server messed up the board. Let’s try again:

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  62. Edward, don’t even get me started on the supplement gurus. It’s almost impossible to convince most adherents that the highly profitable supplement makers, who are not required to prove any efficacy in regards to their products, might actually be selling them nothing more than extra calories, or sugar pill equivalents.

    If you highlight that fact to them, they will normally recount an anecdotal story about how their friend, or family member used them, and they look fantastic!

    More importantly, it seems rather difficult to have any reasonable discussion about calorie reduction strategies as long as so many people are still convinced that aspartame is bad for you.

    Apparently, you have to eat organic foods if you desire longevity, or well, a host of any other postive life experiences.

    Here we have a product that can, in some cases, dramatically reduce a person’s daily caloric intake, yet many mainstream doctors, and nutritionists still repeat myths about it. I guess they’ve been Googling the topic like they have in other instances.

    It reminds me of an incident in my old Anatomy & Physiology class. I once overheard the lab professor telling a student that aspartame is absolutely horrible for you. Of course, he was a Chiropractor moonlighting as a lab instructor.

  63. I read in the paper that researchers have discovered a fat gene.

  64. I always thought that it was pretty much assumed that some people are born with certain issues regarding weight containment, or excessive eating. However, even with these biological “factors” controlled eating, and exercise are still the only viable options for weight control. You’ll just have to work a little harder than the man or woman who may have trouble gaining weight. Although, this seems to be less of a factor as people grow older, and their lifestyles change. Most people put on weight as they grow older for obvious reasons such as family dedication, and of course heavy work schedules. Also, they have very little time for active hobbies that may burn more calories.

    I would like to see more research though. These health headlines are always nice, but once you read them thoroughly you realize that it really is the media attempting to extrapolate an interesting finding.

    Ultimately with news like that you’ll have a slew of people claiming that they were born fat, just like so many people now have ADD and depression to excuse lackluster performance.

  65. Excellent points, None.

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