Feature Articles: Weight Control
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
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