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Dieting myths debunked by top obesity researchers

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 31 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 01 2013 05:45:44 PM CST

It turns out that much of what you've been told about losing weight may be wrong.

It turns out that much of what you've been told about losing weight may be wrong.

A new study by top obesity researchers busts several supposedly sensible ways to battle the bulge.  The scientists who published this study combed through Internet posts, books and even government health advisories. They settled on seven common myths about weight loss they say are completely incorrect.  Using scientific studies and literature, they're trying to set the record straight about obesity.

"We are creatures of a quick fix," explained Susan O'Donnell, Sodexo dietician with Lehigh Valley Health Network. "We want those results and we want them fast."

She said the new report about weight loss is refreshing in a weight-obsessed culture.  Most folks have tried at least once to shed some unwanted pounds.

"I went to the gym constantly," said Melissa Sherman.  "Took Zumba classes and Pilates."

"I've tried Weight Watchers, LA Weight Loss and just walking and counting calories," added Amanda Pitts.

But some of the things you've read online and in diet books might be misguiding.  For example, the report published in the New England Journal of Medicine said eating a little less and exercising a little more over the long term won’t produce large, long-term weight changes.

"There is no cookie cutter meal plan or cookie cutter fitness regiment for every individual," shared O'Donnell.  "It is based on what is customized to your body physique, your basil metabolic rate and your environment."

The study also found physical education classes in school don’t play much of a role in preventing childhood obesity.

"Individuals need to be out of their comfort zone, getting their heart rate up to expand energy."

Another belief without scientific backing is that big, fast weight loss won't stick, and it's important to set realistic weight goals.  Research actually showed sometimes more ambitious goals led to better weight loss outcomes.

"I believe that if someone is pacing their weight loss in a healthy way then that's allowing them time to make the behavior changes and the healthy lifestyle changes that are needed to sustain that weight loss not just for six months to a year, but for a lifetime," said O'Donnell.

The study also lists things that do help you drop the pounds.  For example, exercise helps with weight maintenance, and heredity is important but it's not your destiny.

"Even though you might come from a family of obese or overweight individuals you still have control over your own environment," explained O'Donnell.

The research found weight loss is greater with programs that provide meals.

"Anything that can be pre-portioned, pre-packaged, is going to be easy for someone to continue their weight loss journey because it's convenient to them in their busy lifestyle."

O'Donnell noted that you can also achieve this at home by watching what you eat and planning out your meals.  According to the study, weight loss surgery and prescription drugs can also help folks find success in their quest to lose weight.

"These agents can help but they're going to be short term," added O'Donnell.  "So while you're taking the appetite suppressant you have to learn how to eat healthy and how to include healthy activity into your day."