The Problem With Weight Loss
Almost everybody that is overweight has one time or the other tried to lose weight.
There are several methods available that generally either cut calories and/or increase calorie expenditure through exercise or a combination of both.
The true problem lies not in loosing weight, but rather in maintaining a long term weight loss.
How Difficult Is It To Maintain The Long Term Weight Loss?
If there is something that all researchers in the area of obesity agree is that long term weight loss of success is extremely low. Since the 1960s several studies tried to determine how successful weight loss diets are in the long term. The results are consistent and very clear.
The success rate varies a bit from study to study, but is always extremely low, less than 5% at 5 years.
This means that less than only 1 in every 20 individuals is successful with long term weight loss.
This is astonishingly low and very difficult to explain. According to the general accepted model, if we ingest less calories than the ones that we spend we will lose weight. This is known as the calorie deficit model.
Why Do People Fail In The Long Term?
According to that model, losing weight appears to be extremely simple. Then why does it not work?
And why do people recover the lost weight? According to the calorie deficit model, it should be easier to maintain the weight loss than to lose weight. However, the opposite is the truth.
Why does this occur? In reality diets that restrict caloric intake are almost impossible to maintain in the long-term. The medical establishment and the diet industry blame the lack of discipline and will-power for those that regain their previous weight.
It is very easy, and also very convenient, to blame the patient, but if we think about it more deeply it doesn’t make much sense. When people learn a new habit that is beneficial for them, they generally tend to stick with that same habit. Not all, of course, but generally a large percentage does.
That would be like someone who successfully went to medical school and learnt how to study with efficacy and discipline, so as to complete his course, would after finishing school lose all ability to learn.
Or to say that members of the Navy Seals, after completing their training, would become so weak minded and undisciplined that they would be unable to run for just a couple of miles.
Let´s put the success rate of long-term diet in perspective by performing a simple comparison:
- 25% is the number of recruits that reach the end of the demanding and brutal SEAL training course
- 12,5 % is the number of applicants that are ultimately accepted into Harvard
- 20% is the number of small businesses that succeed
- 5% is the number of persons that are able to maintain the weight loss in the long-term
These numbers give a very clear view of how difficult it is to maintain weight loss after diet. The few that are able to do it call it a job, because it requires so much work and attention.
They have to count calories accurately, plan every meal, think if they can really eat that slice of pizza. They must also exercise almost every day and keep these regular habits for the rest of their live. It is as if their main purpose in life is to stay thin.
What Other Factors Are Involved In Long Term Obesity
There are some other options that are finally being considered by the medical establishment:
- Genetics – Peoples metabolism is different from one person to the other. Two different individuals can absorb a different number of calories from the same food. The studies with identical twins, in which several pairs of twins were given the same amount of excess calories but each pair gained very different weight, are very conclusive.
- The gut flora – It has been established that obese persons have a different gut flora profile from skinny people. They tend to have less variety of species living inside their body. It also frequently occurs a dominance of some species in relation to the others.
- Changes in metabolism – When we start to consume less calories, our body adjust our metabolism to the new diet, so that we can continue to function with less calories. These changes in metabolism can continue after the diet has ended.
Unfortunately, these factors are generally out of a person’s control.
It is probably from the study of these factors that new solutions will arise. Only by targeting the cause obesity will a solution for long term weight loss be found that can help millions of persons affected by this problem.
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