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Feature Articles: Weight Control

Quick and Easy Weight Loss, Is It For Real?

Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D., Former Nutritional Sciences Specialist,
College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia

The promise of "quick and easy" weight loss is actually one of several "red flags" signaling diet fraud. Unfortunately, losing excess body fat is neither quick nor easy. Healthful eating and regular physical activity are the real keys to maintaining a healthy weight over a lifetime.


Here are several "red flags" to help you spot "junk" diet advice: 

Fast weight loss. As a rule, the faster you lose weight, the more likely you are to gain it back. Our goal is to lose fat, not muscle or water weight. To lose body fat, reduce the number of "empty calorie" foods from your diet--soft drinks, chips, snack cakes, cookies, candy bars--and increase your physical activity. Do something you enjoy for at least 30 minutes per day. 

Dire warnings of danger from a single food. No single food in the grocery store will kill us. The key to a healthy diet is choosing foods that give us the most nutrients along with their calories. 

Fat burning foods and supplements. Sorry, there isn't a single food or diet pill that can burn fat. Being more physically active is the most effective way to burn body fat. 

Food-combining. Some diets promote specific food-combining, rigid menus or avoidance of entire categories of foods. There is no scientific evidence behind such theories. We need to eat a variety of foods to get an assortment of nutrients to stay well. 

Testimonials and celebrity endorsements. Check to see who is promoting the diet. Testimonials are one of the most effective methods of selling products, and often include "before and after" pictures. Just because one person makes a claim of successful weight loss, doesn't mean you will too. Actors and actresses may look good, but without health-care credentials, they are not qualified to give you diet and fitness advice. 

Guarantees. Be suspicious of weight loss programs and diets that promise or guarantee permanent weight loss. Losing weight is far easier than keeping it off. To be successful, we must change our eating and lifestyle habits that led to weight gain in the first place. 

Hidden costs. Does the diet program require you to purchase supplements or specially packaged meals? The best weight loss programs are offered through local hospitals and have a professional staff of registered dietitians, exercise therapists and counselors to help you meet your individual needs. All costs are up front and in writing. 

Bottom line: There are no magic bullets; if a diet sounds too good to be true, it usually is!




Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








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