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Busting Weight Loss Myths
Many well-known and long held beliefs regard-
ing weight loss are untrue according to recent
scientific research. Despite the popularity of
some media and health-provider guidance, it
appears much of this weight loss advice is pre-
sumptuous and unproven, or worse yet, persis-
tent myths that have been proven wrong.
Using Internet searches of popular media and
scientific literature, authors Casazza et al,
released a report in the New England Journal
of Medicine, entitled ¡®Myths, Presumptions, and
Facts about Obesity¡¯. They identified, reviewed,
and classified obesity-related myths and pre-
sumptions. They also examined weight loss
facts that are well proven by research, espe-
cially highlighting the facts that have practical
implications for clinical recommendations as
well as public health policies.
The Myths
Myth 1: Rapid weight loss has been vilified
as an unhealthy and unsustainable method of
losing weight, but the evidence suggests the
opposite.
Published research from 2010 Journal of Be-
havioral Medicine showed that groups achieving
rapid weight loss by significant calorie reduction
not only lost more weight but kept the weight
off at 6 and 18 months when compared to
those who lost weight more slowly.
Myth 2: Establishing ¡°realistic goals¡± for weight
loss is the best way for people to stay motivat-
ed to lose weight.
Seems reasonable, but not true, as research
shows that people with very ambitious goals
actually lose more weight, stay more motivated
and better maintain weight loss.
Myth 3: Small changes in reducing food intake
or increasing exercise will yield long term
changes in weight.
Only true if the changes continue to evolve as
weight comes off. Ongoing reductions in food
intake and increases in exercise are required to
maintain ongoing weight loss.
Myth 4: Dieters should be ¡°ready¡± to lose
weight before starting a weight loss
program.
Actually, there is no evidence that readi-
ness correlates with the degree of weight
loss or in sustaining weight loss.
Myth 5: Increased physical education in
school will lead to weight loss.
At least in the current paradigm of public
schools this has not been shown to be true.
More time in physical education class has
not led to less obesity in kids. Perhaps the
question here is whether the current mod-
els of school based exercise programs are
frequent enough, long enough duration, or
get kids moving enough to be sufficient.
Myth 6: Breast-feeding infants protects
them against obesity later in life.
While breast-feeding has numerous other
proven benefits for infants, it is not at all
clear that it will help prevent obesity later
in life.
Myth 7: Sexual activity burns a significant
amount of calories.
This idea sounds great, but in reality typi-
cal sexual activity is about as strenuous as
walking and only burns about 20 calories.
The Presumptions
This study also identified six presumptions
about weight loss that are well established
yet lack real evidence for or against the
recommendations.
It is not clear that skipping breakfast leads
to over-eating later in the day, although
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Health & Nurturing
some studies have shown including protein with
breakfast leads to less over-eating later in the
day and improves weight loss. I recommend
eating breakfast and including protein and fat
containing foods as long burning fuel that does
not stimulate insulin release.
Health habits learned early in life surely influ-
ence behavior later in life, both good and bad,
yet there are not sufficient studies to really say.
This seems like common sense and my observa-
tion in clinical practice is that healthy parents
tend to raise healthy children. Similarly, spending
time with peers who exemplify good health habits
tends to motivate us to do the same.
Simply eating more
fruits and vegetables
without any other
changes does not
automatically lead to
weight loss. However,
eliminating high calorie
nutrient poor foods
in exchange for fruits
and vegetables usually
lowers total calorie in-
take, which does help
with weight loss. And,
the additional nutri-
ents contain important
cofactors necessary for
good metabolism.
¡®Yo-yo¡¯ dieting,
with the cycling of
weight up and down,
is purported to be
unhealthy, yet there
is little evidence to
support or refute this
notion. Snacking in
between meals does
not appear to add to
weight gain unless
it increases the total
daily calorie intake.
While having city
parks, trails and archi-
tecture that encour-
ages activity seems
like it would lead to
weight loss, there are
only observational
studies looking at this
issue and the results
are inconclusive.
What Works for
Weight Loss
The authors did
find nine evidence-
supported facts that
are relevant for clinic
recommendations,
stating ¡°Our proposal that myths and presump-
tions be seen for what they are should not be
mistaken as a call for nihilism. There are things
we do know with reasonable confidence.¡±
Identifying and influencing environmental factors
that cause weight gain is important. Improving
diet, exercise and sleep, while managing stress,
has all been shown to help lose weight. A strat-
egy that changes behavior in a positive direction
will help with weight loss. I highly recommend
the assistance of a certified health coach or per-
sonal trainer when trying to lose weight.
Regardless of weight, exercise will help reduce
the bad health outcomes of obesity. Exercise
clearly helps with weight loss but it must involve
actually moving instead of merely participating.
School and other ¡®out of home¡¯ programs are not
typically as successful as programs that involve
the parents or center around home-based activi-
ties.
Structured meal programs or meal replacement
shakes help with weight loss more than holistic
advice based on balance, variety and modera-
tion. Pharmaceutical and natural supplements are
helpful when prescribed appropriately. Bariatric
surgery can offer life-changing weight loss.
Our clinical weight loss program offers different
¡°catalysts¡± to really kick-start significant weight
loss, such as HCG hormone, MIC-B12 injections,
Semorelin growth hormone stimulant and pre-
scription weight loss medications. Using targeted
supplements one can increase metabolism,
improve insulin sensitivity, suppress appetite and
cravings and more.
No matter what weight loss plan is followed it is
important to include specific coaching programs
that focus on nutrition and exercise, and to repair
underlying health issues that lead directly to
weight gain, such as hormone imbalances or defi-
ciencies, impaired digestive function and delayed
food allergies. Weight loss isn¡¯t magic and there
are plenty of myths to ignore, it¡¯s just a matter of
finding the right course for success.
(Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the
American Board of Family Practice and the
American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative
Medicine. He specializes in Bioidentical Hormone
Replacement for men and women, thyroid and
adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia, weight loss and
other complex medical conditions. He is founder
and medical director of the Integrative Medicine
Center of Western Colorado (www.imcwc.com)
and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.
com). Call 970.245.6911 for an appointment or
more information.)
Medicine
In Harmony
by Scott Rollins, M.D.
¡°If I can get my dress
on, my weight is under
control.¡± - Dolly Parton