Most people who go on diets soon gain back any lost weight
April 11, 2007 – Most people who go on diets soon gain back any lost weight, a UCLA study suggests.
Traci Mann, PhD, associate professor of psychology at UCLA, was teaching a seminar on the psychology of eating when she noticed something odd about diet studies. Few of the studies followed up on dieters for more than six months. Even fewer followed dieters for a year or more.
Mann wondered what, in the long term, really happens when people go on diets. So she and her students tracked down 31 studies that, one way or another, had at least one year of follow-up data. They were interested in just one number: the percentage of dieters who, over time, gain back more weight than they lose.
"We found that the average percentage of people who gained back more weight than they lost on diets was 41%," Mann tells WebMD. "In each of the studies, a third to two-thirds of the subjects gained back more weight than they lost."
Does this mean that most of the people in the studies actually lost weight and kept it off? No, Mann says.
"This is actually bleaker than it seems -- even though most people would find that 41% number to be pretty depressing," she says. "We have strong reasons to feel that this number underrepresents the true number of participants who gained back more weight than they lost."
Mann and colleagues report their findings in the April issue of American Psychologist.
Wight lost program and corrections
t sounds so simple – no choices, no counting calories, no cooking. Just say 'no' to food, and start fasting for quick weight loss and other health benefits.
After all, Beyonce did it. She said she lost 20 pounds by fasting (and using a concoction of syrup, lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper)for her role in Dreamgirls.
But what about the rest of us mortals? We wonder:
- Is fasting an effective way to lose weight?
- Can fasting really help with medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis and other auto-immune disorders?
- Will fasting help you live longer?
And finally, is fasting healthy? Although fasting has been practiced for thousands of years, the question is still a subject of intense medical debate. WebMD consulted experts on weight loss and fasting for some answers.
Fasting and Weight Loss
If you weed through all the controversy, you’ll find that most medical experts agree on one thing: fasting is not a healthy weight loss tool.
"The appeal is that [fasting] is quick – but it is quick fluid loss, not substantial weight loss," says Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, CNS, founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Weight Loss Management Center.
"If it’s easy off, it will come back quickly" -- as soon as you start eating normally again, she says.
Even some proponents of fasting for other medical purposes do not support fasting for weight loss. Some say it can actually make weight problems worse.
"Fasting is not a weight loss tool. Fasting slows your metabolic rate down so your diet from before the fast is even more fattening after you fast," says Joel Fuhrman MD, author of Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Plan for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss and Fasting and Eating for Health.
Fasting for weight loss carries other health risks as well.
While fasting for a day or two is rarely a problem if you are healthy, "it can be quite dangerous if you are not already eating a healthy diet, or if you’ve got liver or kidney problems, any kind of compromised immune system functioning, or are on medication -- even Tylenol," says Fuhrman, a family physician in Flemington, N.J..
Even worse for dieters is that fasting for weight loss "distracts people from the real message of how to lose weight: lower fat intake, eat five fruits and vegetables a day, drink water and stop drinking other liquids, walk 30 minutes a day, and get more sleep," says Fernstrom, an associate professor of psychiatry, epidemiology, and surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
In addition, other practices that are often combined with fasting for weight loss, such as colon cleansing, carry their own risks.
"Fasts are sometimes accompanied with enemas to cleanse your intestinal tract, and that can be very dangerous," says Fernstrom. "The intestinal tract has a lot of good bacteria. When you are changing that balance, the good bacteria are affected, too."
A little more than half of the adults in the United States are overweight. Statistics show that an incredible 65.2 percent of the U.S. population is considered to be "overweight" or "obese." According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity and overweight status is determined in adults by finding a person's "Body Mass Index" or BMI.
BMIis a calculation that takes into consideration both a person's body weight and height to determine whether they are underweight, overweight or at a healthy weight. An adult who is considered "overweight" has a BMI somewhere between 25 and 29.9. An adult with a BMI of at least 30 is considered "obese." This measurement is used because it's typically a good indicator of body fat.
Whether due to concern for related health risks (high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, etc.), or just for sheer aesthetics, many Americans worry about fat. In fact, at this very moment, thousands of Americans are exercisingor dietingto reduce their amount of body fat. But have you ever wondered what fat is? When a person "gets fat" -- gains weight -- what is actually happening inside the person's body? What are "fat cells" and how do they work?
In this article, we will look at the world of the fat cell. We will examine where fat cells are located, how they store fat and how they get rid of it.
Where's the Fat?
Fat, or adipose tissue, is found in several places in your body. Generally, fat is found underneath your skin(subcutaneous fat). There's also some on top of each of your kidneys. In addition to fat tissue, some fat is stored in the liver, and an even smaller amount in muscle.