Recent Scientific Information about Losing Weight

Food Choices

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Latest Diet Information

"A third of the adults in the U.S. are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and another third are overweight, with Americans getting fatter every year." (Scientific America, Feb., 2011) The latest information on losing weight is almost 'no new information.' Scientists have been spending millions of dollars searching for ways to stop increases in our overweight population. They have found a few things that definitely will help all of us to understand the problem better, and they offer advice on the weight-loss methods that work best.

The Weight Loss Problem

When we are trying to lose weight, we rely on willpower to overcome our bad eating habits and to get into a regular exercise routine. This generally works fine at first when our motivation is strong. Pounds start to come off, and we feel rewarded for all of our hard work. Then, our metabolism slows down. Our bodies try to retain the weight, so the pounds are no longer leaving us, and we start to feel frustrated. Our motivation begins to decline, we aren't feeling rewarded for our efforts, and the thought of a thin body seems too far into the future. So, we give up . We will be more likely to stick with a diet and exercise if we can make it fun. Go to the park with your kids, go bowling, go dancing, or just walk around the neighborhood and visit with neighbors. Enjoy what you are doing--find the active things that you enjoy.


Eating Right

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Changing Behavior and Weight Loss

Scientists have found, so far, that we already know how to lose weight: eating fewer calories and exercising. It seems that Weight Watchers and TOPS have the greatest long-term success with their members, although both fall short in a few areas. As a former Weight Watcher's leader, I saw what makes the program work. First, the dieter does not have to give up any food. But, she soon learns that one high point food is not worth eating. Second, weekly, recorded weigh-ins, pep talks, and group support helps many to stay on track. Third, there are weekly rewards given in front of other members for pounds lost. And, fourth, more points are allowed if the dieter exercises. It is a behavior modification method that works.

Take Weight and Body Measurements

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What Diet Research Says

Here is the lastest information for losing weight given in four steps in Scientific America, February, 2011.

  1. Assess your starting point. How much do you weigh? What are your measurements? Do your routines mean you are overeating or under exercising ? A doctor, nurse practitioner or nutrition counselor can help you with your assessment.
  2. Record everything you eat and your exercise habits. "Behavior studies have found both low-tech paper logs and wireless monitoring systems to be of benefit." (p.45)
  3. Shift your behavior, perhaps slowly at first. Start increasing your daily movement like taking the stairs, walking at lunch time, and thinking of what you are going to eat before approaching food. Survey a buffet table before making your selections.
  4. Support groups help greatly for discussion of set-backs and solutions to problems. It can be an exercise group or an online group or a formal group meeting. It keeps you on track.


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No More Fad Diets

We all want to lose weight fast, but will it last? I had a neighbor once that was huge (more than 400 pounds, I'd bet). She went on an eight-month crash diet under the supervision of a doctor and a hospital. She got down to a size 12 and looked amazing! She started dating and soon got married.

I moved and didn't see her for a year. When I came back to visit her, I was shocked. She was the same size she had been before the diet! What a shame! Fad diets can be dangerous and generally don't keep the weight off.

Even if it's slow, we need to lose weight through changing our habits. That's what keeps us at a good, healthy weight. Set realistic goals, and plan for mini-goals and giving yourself mini-rewards for small successes. "No matter who you are, no matter what you do, you absolutely, positively do have the power to change." Bill Phillips, fitness author

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