Weight Loss Folly

One thing that has aggravated me during my 49 year career in physical activity, fitness, nutrition and healthy living study and research is the fixation people have with the latest diets, exercise regimens and mind control tactics to lose weight.  Since the early 60’s the American public has been deluged with diets which include low carbohydrate, low fat and low protein diet plans.  More recently we have been bombarded with plans that consider your carbs, gender, age, body type, metabolic circumstances and…you fill in the blanks.

Sadly, these fixations and promotions of weight loss plans have been a dismal failure.  I once told a colleague that we (the health promotion profession) have failed the public miserably on delivering the goods with effective weight control plans.  She was terribly agitated with me.  She noted her agency had developed really good and effective programs.  My retort was that the programs and intiatives may be good in theory, but they are not effective.  Most people are unable to keep the unwanted pounds and fat off their bodies for a lifetime.  She got so mad at me that she refused to talk to me and actually tried to sabotage some of my research and credibility.  Talk about drama and failing to read the tea leaves.

In the 15 years since our argument, things have gotten a lot worse.  There are more programs, more books, more information on the net and more government intervention.  The result of these supposedly “good and effective”  programs is that we are fatter and more bedeviled with wieght than ever before.  To compound the problem we have exported the weight problem to the world.  Experts call obesity and the resulting Type 2 Diabetes the “Black Death of the 21st Century.”  Scary.

My former colleague had her head in the sand.  Sadly, so has the public.  For example: In 2010, 84% of U.S. parents thought their child was at an ideal weight.  In reality almost 33% were classified as over weight or obese.  And the parents/adults are not doing any better.  One third of people are at least 30 pounds overweight.  And the projections are that by 2030 around 50% of the U.S. males and females will reach 30 pounds overweight.

So how can anyone say we are effective?  We are losing the war on obesity and overweight among children and adults.

Why?  When it comes down to it no one is really serious about correcting the problem.  That’s because we need to think not just about a 10 minute a day work-out, cutting carbs or whatever.  We need to think long-term – a lifetime.  Fighting obesity is a 100 year project.  This is thinking differently about what you do and who you are.  It starts prenatally and continues till you are laid to rest.  There is no alternative.  Short term thinking produces short term results.

When you have time, I would like your thoughts on how we, as a profession, can fight the new Black Death that is sweeping the world.  I’ll post those which I think provide compelling thoughts for us to consider.  Your thoughts may focus on you family, classroom(s), state, nation or the world.

Best, Charlie

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