Dieting is a multi-billion dollar business. Even most obesity researchers are funded by the diet industry. What’s the result? Lots of research that says obesity will kill you. What you don’t ever hear about are the following 5 facts the diet industry does not want you to know:
1. Weights above recommended levels do not necessarily lead to poor health or shorter lifespan.
Approximately 75 % of all studies about weight and death rate published since the 1950s have found that weight is irrelevant to health and death rate (1) (except for the very thin or extremely fat). This means that people who are “moderately overweight” cannot automatically be considered “unhealthy” (2).
2. Weight loss is not inherently good. Thinner is not necessarily healthier.
Weight loss does not necessarily result in a longer life and/or improved health. In fact, The National Institutes of Health reported that "most epidemiological studies suggest that weight loss is associated with increased mortality” (3).
3. Weight loss is not necessary to improve the health.
You’ve heard that you need to lose weight to improve blood pressure, or diabetes, etc, but significant research exists showing these problems can improve without weight loss. Even “metabolic syndrome” (the combination of high blood pressure, elevated blood lipids, and poor blood sugar control) can improve without weight loss. Consuming a high fiber, nutrient-rich diet with adequate physical activity is the key, not a weight loss diet (4-12).
And higher weights can have health benefits, including reduced risk of lung cancer (the number one cause of cancer deaths in both women and men), premenopausal breast cancer and osteoporosis. Even weights defined as overweight and obese have been shown to have advantages (1).
4. Diets don’t work.
Diets have an extremely poor success rate, only 2 to 5% of people who diet will lose weight and keep it off (13-15).
And you probably know from personal experience (and research confirms) that 95 to 98% of people regain all their lost weight, but 1/3 of them will gain extra weight. Dieting will make you fatter in the long run (14, 16). This is also true for children.
5. Diets can negatively impact health.
People who yo-yo diet have decreased metabolic rates, are more efficient at storing fat, and end up with a higher proportion of fat on their bodies.
In fact, each time you lose weight and regain it, weight actually redistributes. It moves from the lower body (where it has a protective effect against heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high cholesterol) to the belly (where it is a health risk factor) (1).
To make matters worse, those who chronically lose and regain weight have increased risk of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes (9, 17-20). Weight cycling is also linked to gall bladder disease, osteoporosis, and kidney cancer (21-23) and breast cancer (24). In fact, long-term studies find higher mortality rates in people who have lost weight (1).
And don’t forget that dieting is the on-ramp to an eating disorder--a devastating and potentially deadly disease. In 20 years of specializing in the treatment of those with eating disorders, I have never met a person with an eating disorder who did not start with dieting.
The Bottom Line
Being hounded to lose weight is not making us thinner, but it is making us miserable. Millions of people have suffered due to focus on weight. Untold numbers have died in their attempts to alter their weights (25-27), even those without eating disorders (28, 29). And, lets face it--a focus on weight only uses up precious time and energy and keeps the focus OFF the more reachable goals of improved nutrition and physical activity (1).
Quit letting our culture make you feel bad because of your weight. Quit letting the government’s “war on obesity” make you feel inadequate. Quit spending money on the diet industry and instead spend it on yourself!
And take the health advice you may have heard from your mother:
"Eat your veggies then go outside and play." ~ Mom
Healthy eating and enjoyable activity will bring you good health. Continually hating and trying to change your body will not.
© 2004 Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LD/N
About Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LDN, SEP
Karin can help you escape food and body angst and learn to manage your eating and weight naturally. Visit www.EatingWisdom.com for free handouts, online courses and more tips on mindful, intuitive eating and healing disordered eating.
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