Amitai Etzioni is not a doctor. He's a a sociologist and professor of international relations at George Washington University, the author several books, and used to teach at Columbia and Harvard. But he has some pretty interesting opinions about dieting.

Etzioni has been "dieting for years." He was never happy about it. He writes: "I felt guilty when I had a piece of chocolate cake, my favorite, and very virtuous when I munched on celery sticks, which I hate." Etzioni has an experiment, in which he asks you to "make a list of 10 people you have known or known of for a long time." And then: "Note next to each if their weight has changed significantly during the time you have known them, as far as you can tell." The result:

…You will probably find that about eight out of 10 people on your list seem to weigh about the same as they did years ago. As one observer put it, some are greyhounds and some are bulldogs.

Emphasis ours, because it's such a great way to distill that thought. We all know the statistics about how often diets fail (usually about eight out of 10 people put the weight back on). Yet adults spend millions of dollars on yo-yo dieting and weight loss plans. Etzioni suggests we "think of body mass like cement: It is rather easy to shape when it is new, but once it settles, it is very resistant to change." He goes on to explain that what we really should be concerned about is what kids are eating, since for children, "healthy eating, especially if combined with exercise, can make a significant difference." As a person interested in public policy, he's into reforming school lunches and the like. As a father, he says: "I still have my celery and my chocolate days, only now I do celery when the kids are around — and chocolate cake when they are not."

Dieting Gets You Nowhere [CNN]

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