Given the focus on weight by the health establishment, the government and the media, it is not surprising that many people in this country are anxiously asking the same question. And there is no shortage of recommendations out there directing people to lose weight with this or that diet, lifestyle program or eating regimen.
Unfortunately, the research over the last 25 years is quite clear. There is simply no evidence that any of these approaches results in long-term weight loss for the vast majority of people who engage in them. There are no exceptions and none of the approaches (low fat, low calorie, low carb, etc.) work any better than any of the others.
Even more unfortunately however, this complete lack of evidence does not stop people from being seduced into trying to lose weight with the latest reincarnation of these approaches. Yet, despite the huge time, money and emotional investment, successful long term weight loss is achieved by only a small minority of people. The result is widespread confusion and anxiety about food and weight cycling – people losing and regaining weight over and over again. Furthermore, the relentless pressure, particularly on women and young girls to lose weight, increases the likelihood of eating disorders, disordered eating and body hatred.
Is there no answer to this question that so many people are asking? Is there nothing people can do to ease their concerns about weight and health? The good news is that there is indeed. by substituting a health-Centered approach for the traditional weight-Centered approach, people can reduce their anxiety about food and weight while at the same time promoting good health.
The health-Centered approach targets lifestyle factors such as physical activity, quality of diet and stress. It is weight-neutral because it treats weight as an outcome of these factors combined with genetics rather than as a direct target for treatment. While this differs substantially from the traditional wisdom about weight and health, please keep in mind that the traditional wisdom in this case is clearly not working or helping and may, in fact, be causing harm.
The following 10 suggestions, based on this health Centered approach, can go a long way towards helping people to ease the concerns about their weight, while at the same time improving their health and the quality of their lives.
1. Save Your Time and Money
Don’t spend another minute or another dime on anything (book, clinic, TV show, etc.) or anybody (doctor, dietitian, relative, etc.) that even remotely suggests it or they will help you lose weight permanently.
Nothing in the health and medical fields has been proven more soundly, than the fact that focusing on weight loss is unlikely to lead to permanent weight loss and more likely to lead to weight cycling and weight gain. People who diet repeatedly over the years end up weighing more than they would have if they had never dieted. Weight cycling can make all the health problems weight loss supposedly helps diabetes, hypertension, lipid abnormalities, etc.) worse.