Almost any of the commercial weight-loss programs can work, but only if they
motivate you sufficiently to decrease the amount of calories you eat or increase
the amount of calories you burn each day (or both). What elements of a
weight-loss program should an intelligent consumer look for in judging its
potential for safe and successful weight loss?
A responsible and safe weight-loss program should be able to document for you
the five following features:
The diet should be safe. It should include all of the Recommended Daily
Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins, minerals, and protein. The weight-loss diet
should be low in calories (energy) only, not in essential foodstuffs.
Slow and Steady
The weight-loss program should be directed towards a slow, steady weight loss
unless your doctor feels your health condition would benefit from more rapid
weight loss. Expect to lose only about a pound a week after the first week or
two. With many calorie-restricted diets there is an initial rapid weight loss
during the first I to 2 weeks, but this loss is largely fluid. The initial rapid
loss of fluid also is regained rapidly when you return to a normal-calorie diet.
Thus, a reasonable goal of weight loss must be expected.
If you plan to lose more than 15 to 20 pounds, have any health problems, or
take medication on a regular basis, you should be evaluated by your doctor
before beginning your weight-loss program. A doctor can assess your general
health and medical conditions that might be affected by dieting and weight loss.
Also, a physician should be able to advise you on the need for weight loss, the
appropriateness of the weight-loss program, and a sensible goal of weight loss
for you. If you plan to use a very-low-calorie diet (a special liquid formula
diet that replaces all food intake for I to 4 months), you definitely should be
examined and monitored by a doctor.
Your program should include plans for weight maintenance after the weight
loss phase is over. It is of little benefit to lose a large amount of weight
only to regain it. Weight maintenance is the most difficult part of controlling
weight and is not consistently implemented in weight-loss programs. The program
you select should include help in permanently changing your dietary habits and
level of physical activity, to alter a lifestyle that may have contributed to
weight gain in the past. Your program should provide behavior modification help,
including education in healthy eating habits and long-term plans to deal with
weight problems. One of the most important factors in maintaining weight loss
appears to be increasing daily physical activity, often by sensible increases in
daily activity, as well as incorporating an individually tailored exercise
Statement of Fees
A commercial weight-loss program should provide a detailed statement of fees
and costs of additional items such as dietary supplements.
Obesity is a chronic condition. Too often it is viewed as a temporary problem
that can be treated for a few months with a strenuous diet. However, as most
overweight people know, weight control must be considered a life-long effort. To
be safe and effective, any weight-loss program must address the long-term
approach or else the program is largely a waste of money and effort.
Obesity affects about one in four adult Americans, and during any one year,
over half of Americans go on a weight-loss diet or are trying to maintain their
weight. For many people who try to lose weight, it is difficult to lose more
than a few pounds! and few succeed in remaining at the reduced weight The
difficulty in losing weight and keeping it off leads many people to turn to a
professional or commercial weight-loss program for help. These programs are
quite popular and are widely advertised in newspapers and on television. What is
the evidence that any of these programs is worthwhile, that they will help you
lose weight and keep it off and that they will do it safely?
1 Win Way Bethesda, MD 20892-3665 Phone: (301) 984-7378 or 1-800-WIN-8098
Fax: (301) 984-7196 E-mail: [email protected]
The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) is a service of the National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the
National Institutes of Health, under the U.S. Public Health Service. Authorized
by Congress (Public Law 103-43), WIN assembles and disseminates to health
professionals and the public information on weight control, obesity, and
nutritional disorders. WIN responds to requests for information; develops,
reviews, and distributes publications; and develops communications strategies to
encourage individuals to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.