The Truths and Myths of Weight Loss : The Scientific Evidence

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In 1980, 47% of the US adults were overweight or obese compared to 65% today. This has occurred during a time when health club memberships have risen by more than 50% with 4.8 billion dollars/year being spent on home exercise equipment and more than 33 billion dollars annually spent on weight loss products and services. Also, during this time the average fat content of meals eaten dropped from 41 to 37%. There has been a 400% increase in the use of sugar-substitutes and reduced-fat food. The purchase of reduced-caloric foods increased from 19 to 76%. Furthermore, the total amount of calories eaten by women dropped by 3% and 6% by men during 1977 to 1988. Although 2/3 of American adults are overweight/obese, only 1/3 Americans (37% men and 52% women) see themselves that way. Of those that see themselves as overweight/obese fewer than 2/3 are trying to lose weight. Although 58% of American adults would like to lose weight, only 36% are following a particular diet plan and 26% exercise three times per week. The Surgeon General states that obesity rates second only to cigarette smoking as a preventable cause of disease and death in the U.S., with health care costs 117 billion dollars a year. So what has caused this complacency? Frustrated by the current inadequacies of weight loss programs, 50,000 people a year turn to surgery in the U.S. Many more are caught up in the media generated hype of fad diets, exercise equipment, and pills. Even the medical community of experts have resolved that one can only hope for a 10% reduction of weight through diet and exercise, and that one is most likely to maintain that for less than 2 years. The reason for this frustration is the myths that have intentionally and unintentionally developed around misinterpreted and exaggerated results from scientific studies, many of which do not pertain to weight loss in overweight/obese individuals. The ambiguity that has resulted from this has propagated the current obesity epidemic. It is the purpose of this book to present the truth supported by sound scientific evidence to expose the myths that have become so perverse not only in the general public, but also, the field of medicine. These false beliefs are presented in the form of a diary that was acquired following the death of an obese patient after gastric bypass. The diary entries personalize these beliefs into everyday experiences and are followed by a discussion in simple language of current scientific evidence that breaks down these falsehoods. This book strips away many of the myths that surround the weight loss process so as to allow the reader to see clearly how to pursue and maintain healthy weight loss.