Debunking Obesity Myths

Posted 02/19/2014 | By HealthCorps

The following are some typical beliefs circulating in the world of dieting and weight loss and some “factual clarifications.”

Small lifestyle changes are enough to help with major weight loss goals

Not really.  Though this is a good way to start or nudge weight loss, it really takes big efforts like an exercise commitment most days of the week, with increasing levels of challenge built into the exercise formula, or really reducing consumption of treats to once or twice a week in portion controlled amounts to encourage significant and steady weight loss.

Rapid weight loss initially is not a good idea

Actually, losing a significant amount of weight in the early weeks of a diet may be helpful, especially if you are extremely overweight or obese.  Chances are that you will be motivated by the number on the scale, and by how much better you feel, which will in turn motivate you to continue your weight loss journey.  The only caveat is the fact that if you use a very low calorie diet, you may not be able to sustain the effort.   You may get hungry and frustrated and abandon the whole program, rather than simply adjusting the diet to allow for slower weight loss.  Consider a pretty strict diet for a week or two and then adjust it so that you can still lose weight, but at a slower pace.

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables helps with weight loss and with lowering obesity risk

It seems intuitive that foods high in water content and fiber would be helpful and important in a weight loss program.  There have been no double blind studies to prove this theory.  Still, most health professionals believe that swapping out denser and more refined foods for fruits and vegetables allows for a reduction in total daily calories, while providing satiating and good tasting foods.  The popular flexitarian diet emphasizes plant-based foods, with fewer meat-based days, and is considered a healthy approach to weight loss.

Weight cycling, also called yo-yo dieting is associated with a higher mortality rate

It is really some observational studies that have made this correlation and it seems intuitive that someone with a stable weight, even if it is too high, would be healthier, compared to someone with significant shifts in their weight.  Imagine the pressure on your heart and circulatory system your weight is going up and down by thirty or more pounds in less than a year’s time.  That phenomenon is common in people struggling with obesity.  More conclusive studies are necessary to present this correlation as a science-based fact.   Intuitively, yo yo dieting is not good for your heart or your health, and if you are significantly overweight, you should try to find sustainable lifestyle changes.

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