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Scientists Question Common Weight Loss Myths

Jessie Whitman | February 12th, 2013

How to Lose Weight FastHave you searched for the most effective weight loss tips, only to be bombarded with a plethora of information, some of it erroneous, regarding how to lose weight fast? In January 2013, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article claiming that some of the most popular diet and exercise tips are merely weight loss myths. The article was based on a study conducted by obesity researchers who called into question some common weight loss precepts, concluding that they were unsubstantiated and false.

The study has been the subject of criticism, however, due to the fact that many of the researchers have financial or other ties to companies whose interest lies in convincing consumers that they will never be able to reach their long-term weight loss goals. These companies include manufacturers of products involved in bariatric surgery, as well as diet pill manufacturers.

Top 7 weight loss myths

In order to choose the most popular weight loss myths, the obesity researchers explored information disseminated in various books, scientific literature, and on the internet. In spite of some of these popular weight loss tips being supported by government agencies and weight loss experts, the obesity researchers pinpoint seven commonly held weight loss beliefs they dispute as lacking credibility and scientific verification. The weight loss myths purportedly debunked by the study were:

#1) Small lifestyle changes such as slightly reducing your calorie intake and exercising more will lead to substantial long-term weight loss results.

This alleged myth is based on the concept that burning about 3,500 calories will result in losing one pound of weight. David Allison, the lead researcher of the study, contends that the number of calories that need to be burned or expended in order to lose weight varies per individual.

#2) Setting realistic weight loss goals will increase the likelihood of success because it will keep people from getting frustrated when they lose less.

The study concludes that establishing realistic goals won’t lead to greater overall weight loss. The researchers reviewed several studies that showed people tend to lose more weight when they set more aggressive goals for themselves.

#3) Physical education classes in schools are effective at reducing childhood obesity.

According to the researchers, physical education classes don’t play a significant role in keeping children active or preventing obesity.

#4) There is a strong correlation between losing weight slowly and being able to keep the weight off long-term.

The researchers analyzed clinical trials that compared people who lost weight quickly to those who lost weight slowly. By the end of a year, neither group was more successful at maintaining their initial weight loss results.

#5) People who start weight loss programs but aren’t ready to change their habits will not see results.

There isn’t any verifiable connection between a person’s readiness to start a weight loss program and how much weight is actually lost.

#6) Breastfeeding reduces the probability of becoming obese later in life.

There are no scientific studies that prove there is any association between breastfeeding and obesity prevention.

#7) Sexual activity burns nearly 100 to 300 calories for each person.

The researchers assessed that a person might realistically burn close to 14 calories during six minutes of sexual activity.

Did weight loss myths researchers have personal agendas?

The study refuted the aforementioned weight loss myths, concluding that they remained popular only because they were constantly repeated over the years by multiple sources, and because they make the notion of losing weight more appealing to consumers. While addressing effective weight loss methods, Allison stated that prescription medication and surgeries that reduce the size of the stomach tend to work.

The study’s conclusions have been criticized due to the financial link between the researchers and certain companies within the weight loss industry. Some of the researchers are paid board members and consultants for companies that manufacture prescription medication and equipment used for the treatment of obesity. The researchers are also affiliated with companies that produce meal replacements and promote methods for maintaining body weight management.

How to lose weight fast: consult a physician first

Weight loss myths aside, the fastest way to lose weight varies for each individual. Weight loss tips or methods that work for one person may not be suitable for someone else. Factors such as health status, weight loss goals, and lifestyle needs should be taken into consideration while creating a diet and exercise regimen. Physician-supervised medical weight loss programs such as those offered at the Center For Medical Weight Loss have been shown by research to achieve some of the most reliable, long-term results. A study in the American Journal of Medicine concluded that the average patient at the Center shed 11.1% of their total body weight in just 12 weeks. Over 95% of patients maintained weight loss after one year.

With over 450 locations across the U.S., the Center for Medical Weight Loss is the largest group of non-surgical weight loss doctors in the country. To see if there is a location near you, enter your zip code in the search box above. Make sure to inquire about special introductory offers.