Why Diets Don't Work
1. Facts about dieting
- Americans are dieting at the highest rate in history.
- 20-24% of American men and 33-40% of American women are actively dieting to lose weight.
- An additional 28% of American men and women are dieting to maintain weight.
- The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Over the past 20 years, the diet industry in the United States has tripled its gross annual income to a staggering $50 billion.
2. Dieting has risks
- America's obsession with thinness may actually contribute to obesity.
- 1 out of every 3 Americans is considered to be obese.
- Dieting can lead to eating disorders.
- 59% of individuals entering treatment for eating disorders considered a prolonged period of dieting as a precipitating event to the onset of their disorder.
3. Diets do not necessarily lead to weight loss
- Diets work only 5-10% of the time.
- Most dieters regain the weight lost within 5 years.
- Dieters who regain weight often weigh more after dieting than they did before dieting.
Why dieting does not lead to lasting weight loss
- Research shows that weight is to a great degree genetically determined.
- The goal of dieting is that the body uses its stored form of energy (i.e., fat) to make up for the needed energy. This works in theory, but not in practice.
Weight management: An alternative to dieting
- Adopting more effective and reasonable approaches to weight management offers the best outlook for physical and psychological health.
- Learning to reduce health risk by engaging in weight management, not dieting, seems the most appropriate course of action.
- According to the American Dietetic Association, "weight management" is defined as "the adoption of healthful and sustainable eating and exercise behaviors indicated for reduced disease risk and improved feelings of energy and well being."
- Weight management is learning to eat and exercise reasonably.
- Modest changes regarding eating and exercise habits can result in a small, maintainable weight change.
- These changes, when maintained over years, significantly reduce the risk of many illnesses considered to be complicated by obesity (e.g., cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, adult onset diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, sleep apnea).
For more information, please contact the Women's Center at (203) 392-6946.