Dieting is unhealthy

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Health & Safety: Babies, Nutrition: Health

Here's the news you may have been waiting for -- dieting isn't good for you. I know I'm going to print a copy of this article for my doctor. Scientists at the University of California have completed the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of the available data ever and found this simple, and perhaps obvious, fact: dieting doesn't work.

In fact, they found that dieters actually end up heavier than when they started, more often than not. More than two-thirds put the weight right back on, raising the danger of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. "You can initially lose 5 to 10 per cent of your weight on any number of diets," notes researcher Dr. Traci Mann. "But after this honeymoon period, the weight comes back. We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority."

As the Daily Mail notes, it could actually be worse -- since people tend to lie about their weight and may be unwilling to admit their weight has gone up again after a diet. The conclusion? Dieters maybe be worse off than had they not dieted at all. Repeated weight gain and loss can double the risk of death from heart disease. It is also linked to stroke and diabetes and makes the body more prone to infection by suppressing the immune system.

"We decided to dig up and analyse every study that followed people on diets for two to five years. We concluded most of them would have been better off not going on the diet at all," said Dr. Mann. "Their weight would have been pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear from losing weight and gaining it all back. The benefits of dieting are simply too small and the potential harms of dieting are too large for it to be recommended as a safe and effective treatment for obesity."

Unfortunately, it's not all good news for those of us who dread dieting. "Exercise may well be the key factor leading to sustained weight loss," says Dr. Mann. "Studies consistently find that people who report the most exercise also have the most weight loss."

Dr. Beckie Lang, of the Association for the Study of Obesity, summed it up succinctly: "Maintaining a healthy weight isn't about going on a diet and coming off a diet when you reach your target weight. It is about adopting skills that change your eating habits for life." Oh well. I guess I better start becoming better acquainted with the old exercise bike.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.