In the past, when almost everyone had to work physically hard to get enough food, obesity was not a major problem. But nowadays, many of us have sedentary lives, get little exercise and have access to a huge range of foods many of which are calorie dense, meaning you don’t have to eat much to get a lot of calories – chips, pasta, sweets, cake, biscuits etc. And we love this stuff, feeding ourselves on processed foods to save time or money or just because we prefer the mix of salt, fats and sugars the manufacturers often load into the products.
1. The Problem
Obesity is very much a serious problem in the advanced countries and the weight-loss industry is enormous but not necessarily very effective.
In the USA from 1980 to 2000 obesity rates doubled. In 2001, the U.S. surgeon general announced that obesity had reached “epidemic” proportions. Now, around 37% of adults are classed as obese . In Europe the picture is little better with most countries having more than 20% obese and the UK the worst at 28%.
Diets, supplements etc. clearly help some people, but the problem of obesity continues and ever more fad diets and methods for weight loss keep appearing and sadly many are complete scams, perpetrated by people simply seeking to take advantage and make money for nothing.
The weight-loss industry is worth more than $100 billion worldwide.
2. Losing Weight
Two of the most commonly used diet methods are the 5:2 diet and the Mediterranean diet which both have good scientific evidence to support them.
But, in theory, you can lose weight on pretty much any diet - as long as you eat fewer calories than your body consumes in your daily activity.
Many weight loss programmes are quite ridiculous and have no scientific evidence to back them, but people are taken in by Marketing, celebrity endorsements and quite frankly a lot of lies.
Most diets work by making us eliminate certain foods from our diet. Remove one food (or many foods), eat other foods, and you will lose weight. But stopping eating favourite foods is not easy and is difficult to maintain long-term.
Diet regimes where the weight loss is at a moderate rate and can be sustained for a long run stand far better chance of long term weight loss than any of the quick fix methods. But you can understand why people choose the quick fix rather than the long term slow approach.
The average on most successful short term diets is about 2 -3 pounds per week. The more fat you have to lose the quicker the process at least initially. It gets harder to lose the last few pounds than the first few.
Even weight loss of one pound per week over a year gives 52 pounds and that’s a lot of weight loss if you can avoid putting it back on again.
3. Scams and Ridiculous Methods
There are endless ridiculous diets on the market, including:-
· The wine and eggs diet
· The baby food diet
· The cookie diet (seriously, just cookies)
· The cigarette diet
· The tapeworm diet (yuk)
· The chocolate diet (I’d try that)
· The magnetic diet
Some examples of scams
e.g. Grandma and Grandpa Rapid Weight Loss
Scammers like to pick unusual groups or places from which suddenly emerges a magical secret that can give rapid weight loss or increased brain capacity or a diabetes cure or banish cellulite or even a cure for Cancer.
One latest one is about how Grandpa Dan and Grandma Sylvia were flying home when Dan had a heart attack and the plane had to land in Germany where they were taught a unique 2 minute ritual that magically melts away belly fat.
So much so that Dan and Sylvia between them have lost 68 pounds of unwanted weight.
Another magic weight loss secret (this one is soup) that lets you lose up to 37 pounds in just 20 days. In reality, you’d have to have your mouth sewn shut to have any hope of achieving that speed of weight loss.
Here’s another one. Apparently, breakthrough research has discovered a fat burning ingredient in a common fruit and this can lead to 47 lbs weight loss in just 30 days. To get that rate of weight loss I assume they kidnap you, chuck you in a prison and completely starve you for the 30 days. I can do without that.
4. The Most Popular Diets of 2017
A diet is simply any fixed plan of eating and drinking designed to achieve weight loss or maintain a weight or in some cases to gain weight.
1. Atkins diet
The Atkins diet, focuses on controlling the levels of insulin in the body through a low-carbohydrate diet.
People on the Atkins diet avoid carbohydrates but can eat as much protein and fat as they like.
2. The Zone diet
The Zone diet aims for a nutritional balance of 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent fats, and 30 percent protein in each meal. The focus is also on controlling insulin levels, which may result in successful weight.
3. Ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet has been used for decades as a treatment for epilepsy and is also being explored for other uses. It involves reducing carbohydrate intake and upping fat intake. It sounds contrary to common sense, but it claims to let the body burn fat as a fuel, rather than carbohydrates.
4. Vegetarian diet
Many people choose a vegetarian diet for ethical reasons, as well as health.
There are many varieties of vegetarian diet including lacto-vegetarian (includes milk products).
5. Vegan diet
A vegan does not eat anything that is animal-based, including eggs, dairy, and honey. Vegans do not usually adopt veganism just for health reasons, but also for environmental, ethical, and compassionate reasons.
6. Weight Watchers diet
Weight Watchers focuses on losing weight through diet, exercise, and a support network.
Dieters can join either physically and attend regular meetings, or online. In both cases, there is lots of support and education available for the dieter.
There are thousands of other diets available of course.
5. Scam, Fad or Both?
The FTC has provided a checklist, which is intended for advertisers but can also protect consumers from their own gullibility. Think twice before purchasing a product that promises any of the following:
· Weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month or more without dieting or exercise.
· Substantial weight loss no matter what or how much you eat.
· Permanent weight loss even after you stop using the product.
· Blocking the absorption of fat or calories to enable you to lose substantial weight.
· Safely lets you lose more than three pounds per week for more than four weeks.
· Substantial weight loss for all users.
· Substantial weight loss by wearing a product on the body or rubbing it into the skin.
6. The Future
No doubt there will be a constant stream of ridiculous diets and fads for people to follow - celebrity diets, super-foods, supplements and any number of ‘magic’ ingredients to make dieting easier. Many will not work and some will be dangerous.
The successful dieters are most likely those with a very good reason to stick to a diet and those following the straightforward diets such as 5:2 and the Mediterranean diet and those going to Weight Watchers.
Maybe something that is magical in its effect on our weight will happen one day. But I’m not holding my breath waiting for it.
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