Weight Loss Myths: Let's Set The Record Straight Elizabeth Entenman

Don’t set your weight loss goals too high! If you’re too ambitious with that popular diet, you’ll just get frustrated and give up. Be sure to go slow and steady with how much you lose, because rapid weight loss means less in the long run. But it’s all based on genetics anyway, so there’s no point in trying. Right?

Chances are, you’ve heard “advice” like this before surrounding dieting and weight loss. Truth is, these myths are just that: myths, doing more harm than good. Where do facts and statistics like these actually come from? So often we cling to unsupported studies that we heard somewhere, statistics taken out of context. We insist they must be true, because a friend heard it from a friend who used to want to be a personal trainer. Or because someone said that someone else said it on Oprah. Or because one of the Real Housewives brought it up.

The diet and weight loss misinformation is out there, and it’s time to start getting the facts – the real facts. It’s also time for doctors and scientists to make a change in how we receive and digest (sorry) information. It’s borderline unethical to promote speculated information over established facts.

“We need to do rigorous studies. We need to stop doing association studies after an association has clearly been demonstrated.” -Dr. David B. Allison on the importance of good research

So, how do we know what to believe? One man in particular is taking a stand. Dr. David B. Allison, Director of the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, wants to put an end to spreading assumptions. This article is a good place to start.

Myths
- Small things make a big difference. Walking a mile a day can lead to a loss of more than 50 pounds in five years.
- Set a realistic goal to lose a modest amount.
- People who are too ambitious will get frustrated and give up.
- You have to be mentally ready to diet or you will never succeed.
- Slow and steady is the way to lose. If you lose weight too fast you will lose less in the long run.

Ideas Not Yet Proven True or False
- Diet and exercise habits in childhood set the stage for the rest of life.
- Add lots of fruits and vegetables to your diet to lose weight or not gain as much.
- Yo-yo diets lead to increased death rates.
- People who snack gain weight and get fat.
- If you add bike paths, jogging trails, sidewalks and parks, people will not be as fat.

Facts
- Heredity is important but is not destiny.
- Exercise helps with weight maintenance.
- Weight loss is greater with programs that provide meals.
- Some prescription drugs help with weight loss and maintenance.
- Weight-loss surgery in appropriate patients can lead to long-term weight loss, less diabetes and a lower death rate.

For now, if diet and weight loss are a part of your everyday routine, stick to the facts. Know that everyone is different, and experience diet and weight loss differently. It’s difficult to find weight loss solutions using poorly-researched data, but Dr. Allison and his colleagues are taking steps in the right direction.

Featured image via ShutterStock

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