Weight loss hoaxes and misleading weight loss products and programs only cause overweight individuals to become more discouraged and blame themselves for failing, yet again, to lose weight. Recently a patient told me, each time you try another diet and fail to get the advertised results, “The failure takes a little piece of you. You wind up feeling defeated, depleted and depressed which then usually leads to more emotional eating, and more weight gain”. Although medical science continues to learn about fat cell metabolism and the metabolic processes of weight gain and weight loss, the basic fundamentals of weight management have not changed. It is an increased calorie intake, not metabolic rate, exercise patterns, environmental pressures or social stresses that cause weight gain. This is good news because it highlights the fact that, to a large degree, the individual still has some significant role in the control of their weight. Blaming yourself for your inability to lose weight is not helpful, and neither is allowing others to shame you for your excess weight. However unappealing the message, the truth is that there is no quick and easy way to lose weight, it takes time, dedication and is hard work. But by taking charge and educating yourself about the science of weight loss and committing to a legitimate weight loss program, these actions will help you to be successful. However because 10% - 15% of overweight individuals may have a medical condition, such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Syndrome, or use of certain weight gaining medications that affect their weight, every overweight patient deserves a medical evaluation before starting a weight loss program. This examination will help to put to rest any concern of whether there is a metabolic abnormality that is causing an unwanted weight gain. Weight loss is certainly difficult, and keeping it off is even harder, but this is one issue that must be taken seriously and acted upon with commitment using legitimate and honest tools not hyped up hoaxes.
Peter Vash, M.D., M.P.H.
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