Proven Weight Loss Methods that Actually Work

In a surprising article from a blue-chip panel of experts, the New England Journal of Medicine has shredded many of our most fervently held beliefs about obesity and weight loss. The article begins: "Passionate interests, the human tendency to seek explanations for observed phenomena, and everyday experience appear to contribute to strong convictions about obesity, despite the absence of supporting data." All this misinformation could be the culprit of inconsistent results (see how your metabolism suffers, in the Dangers of Yo-Yo Dieting).

The rest of the "special article," which deals with "myths," "presumptions," and "facts," reads much like a feature story in your favorite health magazine. Only the conclusions are the opposite of what you have read and heard dozens of times. As briefly as possible:


1. Small changes can yield big results over time.
Fact: Nope, the actual changes may be only 20% of what you have been told.

2. Weight-loss goals must be realistic.
Fact: There's little or no evidence for this.

3. Slow and steady wins the weight-loss race.
Fact: Little evidence. Might prove counterproductive.

4. Readiness to lose weight is important.
Fact: Unproven.

5. Phys-ed classes help prevent obesity in kids.
Fact: Not proven by existing studies.

6. Breastfeeding infants protects them from obesity.
Fact: Nope. But it does have other important benefits.

7. Sex burns 100 to 300 calories.
Fact: Ha! Would you believe an average net burn of 14 calories?

Diet not working? See if you're making common nutrition and fitness blunders in our list of Incredible Weight Loss Myths, Exposed.

(i.e., "widely accepted beliefs that have neither been proved nor disproved")
1. Regular breakfast eating protects against obesity.
2. Childhood habits influence weight throughout life.
3. Eating more fruits and vegetables promotes weight loss.
4. Yo-yo dieting is associated with increased mortality.
5. Snacking leads to weight gain.
6. The "built environment" (sidewalks, parks, etc.) influences obesity rates.

So, what should you do with all this confusing and conflicting information? Follow these 10 Tips to Weight Loss That Lasts.


1. Genetics are important, but are not your destiny. Personal choices can change your weight.
2. Diets "very effectively reduce weight," but that doesn't make dieting easy, guaranteed, or a long-term solution.
3. Exercise is healthy even if it doesn't lead to weight loss. It can "mitigate" bad health effects of obesity.
4. Exercise "in a sufficient dose" can impact obesity. But this requires "a substantial quantity."
5. Methods used to promote weight loss must be continued for "maintenance" of weight loss. Obesity requires "ongoing management."
6. For children, at-home efforts with parents are crucial. School and other programs are not as effective as what can be achieved at home.
7. Use of provided meals and meal-replacement products is effective. These provide great structure.
8. "Some pharmaceutical agents" are helpful.
9. In appropriate cases, bariatric surgery is effective.

--By Amby Burfoot, Runner's World

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