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Baby Food Diet? Americans Are Spending $50 Billion a Year Dieting -- And We're Getting Crazier By the Minute

Why our extreme quest for weight loss isn't working.

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But are these the only reasons people are finding it so hard to lose weight? Research by Australian weight loss specialist Joseph Proietto showed that when putting 50 obese men and women on a weight loss regime for 10 weeks, with an average loss of 30 pounds, the composition of hormones in their bodies had changed. After one year the patients had regained an average of 11 pounds, despite eating healthy and exercising regularly. They even reported being more preoccupied by the thought of food than ever before!

Testing showed that these men and women’s bodies were fighting to put the pounds on again, and that they possessed 20 percent higher levels of grehlin (the "hunger hormone") than they had before the dieting process had begun. Hunger-suppressing hormone peptide YY was also surprisingly low, and a mixture of other hormone imbalances were found. People who have never tried to lose weight have a steady level of these hormones. Proietto says, “What we see here is a coordinated defense mechanism with multiple components all directed toward making us put on weight. This, I think, explains the high failure rate in obesity treatment.”

Once weight is lost, the muscles may begin to function in a less efficient manner, causing people who have lost weight to burn 20-25 percent less calories than those who have not dieted. This means that instead of burning 300 calories on a half hour jog, they are probably burning around 225-240 calories.

Another recent research study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that losing weight may be particularly difficult for adults since the number of fat cells becomes stagnant in adulthood. Tests have shown that through childhood and adolescence, people are able to fluctuate in weight by gaining or losing fat cells. But once adulthood is reached, these fat cell fluctuations no longer appear. At this point losing or gaining weight is simply visible through an increase or decrease in the size of fat cells. This could be another potential reason why diets do not work, as your body has set a weight once adulthood is reached that is hard to change.

Parents are well-advised to encourage children's healthy eating habits and exercise, but genetics also plays a key role. Research led by Professor Jane Wardle on 5,000 pairs of identical and non-identical twins at the University College London has shown that there are certain genes that will cause people to be prone to weight gain, making it harder for them to lose weight. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that weight was attributable to genes by 77 percent. Wardle states, "It is wrong to place all the blame for a child's excessive weight gain on the parents -- it is more likely to be due to the child's genetic susceptibility. These results do not mean that a child with a high complement of susceptibility genes will inevitably become overweight, but that their genetic endowment gives them a stronger predisposition."

Preventative measures to weight gain in the first place are always the best way to start, especially in children. But what about the large percentage of the adult population that needs to lose weight? Is there no hope? The obesity epidemic is due to factors that are controllable as well as those that are not. Focusing on what you can control can make a significant difference in your health and life enjoyment. Most importantly, this means eating healthfully and exercising as much as you can, and not falling for those modern Tracy Andersons out there who claim eating baby food is going to save you.

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