Thursday, January 31, 2013

Obesity: It ain't so

You know the old saw about losing weight I love the most--just eat 500 cals a day less than you need and you will lose a pound a week. 3500 cals "equals" a pound. You know that one.

Everyone who has ever been on a "diet," knows you may 3-4 lbs the first week (water weight, people sniff), then nothing, then maybe a pound, then plateau. Etc. It's not like it's one to one--eat one less hamburger, yipes there goes a pound.

Now an international team of researchers headed by a guy at the University of Birmingham has looked at seven "myths" about weight loss.

1. Small, sustained changes in calories or how we burn them will accumulate to big losses over time. Truth: This does not continue to happen--as you get smaller, the small changes work less well.

2. Setting realistic goals of how much to lose is better. Truth: Ambitious goals are more inspiring.

3. Quick weight loss is more likely to be regained. Truth: After several years, people who had quick loss are more likely to weigh less.

4. Patients need to be "ready" to lose..and docs should see if they are. Truth: Readiness neither predicts loss or makes it happen.

5. PE in schools is important in preventing childhood obesity. Truth: No evidence of this.There is evidence that exercise and activity programs in the family work

6. Breastfeeding protects against obesity. better.Truth: No evidence.

7. One episode of sex burns 300 cals per person. Truth: Sorry--1/20th of that--about as much as sitting on the couch. Not that there are not other pluses--or uses for that couch.

There are more, too. Skipping breakfast does not make you fat. Eating fewer calories does reduce weight. Exercise can contribute--but it has to be "non-trivial." That means intense.

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