Fad Diets Really, Really Don't WorkS

Hey, you guys, this is super weird: some scientists have done a bit of research and figured out that it is possible for obese people to lose weight by doing something other than going on The Biggest Loser. Crazy, right? What's even more bizarre, though, is that the way for them to lose weight does not even involve eating nothing but seedless grapes (no seeds, they are SO fatty!) for six weeks or choking down a piece of corrugated cardboard before every meal—and by meal, I obviously mean gum. No, it turns out the most effective way to lose weight is to exercise and eat less fat. I know! Let's all say, 'Whoa," in our best Joey Lawrence voice.

The study, which was led by Dr. Jacinda M. Nicklas, a clinical research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, used data on more than 4,000 obese people in the 2001-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. What the researchers found was that obese people are totally capable of losing weight. Wow, it's almost as if their bodies operate in the exact same way as the rest of the human race… Of the people who were surveyed, 2,523 of them reported that they were trying to lose weight. Of those people, 40 percent said they'd had a weight loss of 5 percent or more, and another 20 percent said they'd lost 10 percent or more.

So how did these people pull off this magical feat? Nicklas explains what they found:

Those who exercised more and ate less fat were significantly more likely to lose weight. Additionally we found a correlation between joining weight loss programs and greater reported weight loss, which may speak to the importance of structure in a weight loss regimen.

Well, of course weight loss programs work. I mean, celebrities have lost weight using them, and celebrity spokespeople only endorse things that are 100 percent effective. But this eating less, exercising more business is a real bummer. Why can't we just keep trying to lose weight the old-fashioned way: by drinking the juice of a rancid cabbage mixed with the trimmings from a hobo's beard? Or by only consuming sprigs of rosemary during the months of February, July, and October? Well, we can't do that, according to Dr. Downer Nicklas, because it doesn't work:

[S]elf-reported use of popular diets, liquid diets, nonprescription weight loss pills and diet foods/products were not associated with weight loss.

Goddammit. What's next, a study that proves you can't get rich quick? Dr. Christina Wee, another author on the study, says this result is supposedly good news:

It's very encouraging to find that the most of the weight loss methods associated with success are accessible and inexpensive. There are lots of fad diets out there as well as expensive over-the-counter medications that have not necessarily been proven to be effective, and it is important that Americans discuss product claims with their doctor before trying such products.

Okay, fine—but it depends on how you define effective because I know this one girl whose cousin did the Shark Attack diet, where you rub bloody chum all over yourself and then go swimming, and she lost a ton of weight in the area where her left leg used to be.

Before jumping to any upsetting conclusions, you should know that this study only looked at a one-time snapshot of the participants' weight loss efforts. Thus, it wasn't looking at whether these people were able to maintain their weight loss over time. So we can hold onto a shred of hope until they do more research that proves once and for all that the Freeze Dried Soy Ice Cream Diet isn't better at keeping weight off over the long-term than this whole eating a healthy diet and being physically active malarkey.

More exercise, eating less fat and weight loss programs are in, popular diets are out [EurekAlert]

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