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Still no free lunch.

Television commercials featuring highly paid celebrities, "miracle" drugs and popular magazine articles to the contrary, there is still no free lunch when it comes to weight control. Although many of the more popular diets in recent years have indeed produced significant weight loss for many people, the sad truth is that unless the diet is part of a significant and continuing lifestyle change, the weight is invariably gained back.

Dieting-not baseball-seems to be the great American pastime, and anyone who comes along with a new diet plan immediately attracts vast throngs, particularly if - and eat all you want! " is part of the deal. It is difficult for those of us in the health profession to understand why intelligent, educated people embrace seemingly any dietary fad that comes along, in spite of the obvious fact that none has stood the test of time. The resulting "yo-yo" effect-lose weight, gain it back, lose it again, gain it back again, ad infinitum-is not only unrewarding to those who want to lose weight, but also appears likely to contribute to the very health risks that prompted losing the weight. Yet the hucksters continue to induce people to spend vast sums on products that fail to do what they promise and that may even endanger lives in the process.

The simple truth, which somehow seems so unacceptable to those wishing to lose weight, is that the only way to lose weight and maintain that loss is to take in fewer calories than we bum up-which means: eat less and exercise more. No product on the market, or any program short of old-fashioned exercise, will bum up calories consumed or stored in the body. Although some drugs sold over the counter as appetite suppressants may help reduce one's caloric intake, none has yet demonstrated its effectiveness in the long run. Some can even be dangerous to persons with such conditions as high blood pressure. Finally, procedures and devices that claim to remove "cellulite" (a phony term created by the hucksters for a nonexistent form of fat deposit), or such gimmicks as body wraps that do nothing more than cause excess sweating (most of which is gained back with a good drink of water) are completely without merit and total wastes of time and money.

For the vast majority whose weight is at least 20 percent above the recommended levels (and who thus fall under the category of obesity), changes in eating and exercise lifestyles will require discipline most are unwilling to adopt. Yet anyone serious about losing excess weight will find such measures necessary and even possible. In our next issue, we will offer some suggestions for accomplishing this-as well as provide some guidelines for determining whether one is, in fact, significantly overweight. Our older readers may be pleasantly surprised to learn they are not as badly off as some past weight tables may have led them to believe!
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Title Annotation:weight control
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Mar 1, 1990
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