The number of obese Americans has doubled in the past 30 years. Want to know one big reason why? The average American consumes more than 3,800 calories a day. What’s wrong with that? It’s roughly twice as much as we need!
Is dieting the solution? Lots of people apparently think so. Approximately 45 million Americans try diets every year to lose weight. But the true “diets” — the kind that ask you to cut out major food groups, dramatically reduce your calorie count or eat only specific foods — just don’t work. Such drastic shifts in eating are not sustainable or healthy over the long term.
In fact, these types of diets often lead to weight gain. Researchers at UCLA found that while people typically lose 5 to 10 percent of their body weight in the first six months of dieting, after several years, one-third to two-thirds of dieters regain what they lost — and then put on even more pounds.
“We tell people, please don’t diet,” says Michael McKee, PhD, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic who works with obese patients. “We want you to eat differently and exercise.”
What does it mean to eat differently? And does it really lead to long-term weight loss and better health? Quite simply: Yes.
Words to Weigh By
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) tracks more than 5,000 people who have lost significant amounts of weight (an average of 66 pounds) and kept it off for a long time (an average of 5.5 years). Researchers studying the NWCR have gleaned the following secrets to weight-loss success.
— by Katherine E. Solem
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