Fat People: does web-based information really help for weight loss?
As many persons interested in weight issues, I had myself a few pounds to lose tens years ago, and I did so, but to be honest it has been a hard fight.
Last summer I have been traveling from Boston to Key West with my family, and I have been literally shocked by the high number of fat and obese people. I thought about it many times, talked to friends (thereof dietitians) and my questions were:
- Why are so many people fat nowadays?
- Why is it so hard to lose weight?
- Why do we have so many available information and so poor results?
I have tried to think about these issues in a personal way, with one rule: don't judge, don't simplify.
Are we sure that more and more people are fat in the USA?
Of course we can have a general impression by walking down the streets, but this is not a scientific approach ;-) So do we have some figures proving that fact? Yes: I recommend you to go to the official CDC website (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the Health Statistics section will tell you that approximately 34% of U.S. adults and 17% of children and adolescents are obese. These figures are so high that I had to read twice to be sure. I also remember that my first thought has been: the question is not «how to lose weight», it should be «how to stay slim»!
And the second thought : to reach so high numbers, this overweight issue must be very complex and linked to profound causes, probably social, cultural, economical reasons, then going progressively to smaller circles, like family, friends and finally personal reasons.
Why so many fat people?
- Most probably, medical reasons (hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, Cushing's syndrome etc...) nor complex genetic reasons (role on appetite, fat storage, etc...) would explain the recent increase of fat people ratio in the last decade – ours genes didn't change much during that period.
- But our lifestyle did for sure, and it is a key factor of this weight development: unhealthy nutrition (processed foods, not enough fruit and vegetables, alcohol, eating more than body's needs)
- Eating too much due to family habits, stress due to job or family conflicts etc..
- And finally lack of exercise due to sedentary lifestyle (driving instead of walking even for short distances, elevators instead of stairs, “no time for the gym” but “time for TV”, etc...
Why is it so hard to lose weight?
We just saw that overweight was mainly due to lifestyle, thus losing weight definitely means changing this lifestyle at different levels, personal, family, friends etc.. which is really hard for most people. It is not a matter of information, people know that you would better be slim than fat and what are the risks for their health – a possible comparison would be with smoking: smokers are very well informed about the risks but they can't stop. It is not about information, it's about decision and implementation.
Why so many sources of information and so poor results?
As just said, adding information to the existing one, already known, doesn't help.
It would be useless for people seeking help for weight loss to jump from one website to the other. I think that it would be enough to focus on two websites only, a big one and a small one and to invest personal time to develop a good knowledge, to build a personal plan and to use the proposed tools.
In a nutshell: eat less, move more, get support online at one or two places only, get support « offline » meaning in the real life, from your physician, family and friends.