As we start the new year in 2013, the most common resolution adults make is to lose weight. Strategies for weight loss abound, but enduring weight loss is more a function of intake control than exercise. Studies for example have shown that more exercise after moderate exercise, does not lead to more weight loss. So what are the best strategies for weight maintenance? Here are my personal recommendations:
- Moderate exercise
- Eat slowly, to give the stomach a chance to tell the brain you are full
- Smaller food portions of favorite foods
- More foods with high food value in terms of nutrition and fiber
- Less carbohydrates
- No soft drinks, and add an equal amount of water to drink any juice diluted.
Most women are familiar with the need to loose weight especially after gaining more than 40 lbs. during pregnancy. So while it may seem unfair for a skinny or slender person like myself to be writing an article on weight loss, please know that I too have been there and done that. In fact, I've done it five times over after giving birth to five children.
Besides favorable genetics, I credit lifetime eating habits that were created during my childhood upbringing in a western European family, where simple unprocessed foods were the norm. Of course I also spend most of my childhood riding a bicycle to school, a form of transportation that is merely recreational in the US.
With the advent of processed foods and larger restaurant food portions, the US and even other western nations have experienced a huge increase in obesity, with attendant diabetes and high blood pressure. Both of which puts us at higher risk for strokes and heart attacks. Moreover, we are producing obese children with the same chronic adult diseases.
Any New Year’s resolution to lose weight must therefore become a family affair. A point that is underscored by today’s article in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. In it they contend that our individual and family decisions have a collective impact on our society:
Obesity costs now exceed $190 billion annually and represent 21% of US health care costs.
Their article is the most comprehensive I have seen on the issue of childhood obesity. It addresses the need of healthier foods in our schools, the issue of safety of obese toddlers in car seats that are unsuited for their excessive body weight, all the way up to the Pentagon’s national security warning:
As of February 2012, the Pentagon has deemed childhood obesity to be a threat to our national security. A recent national report "Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve" documents that approximately 15,000 potential military recruits fail their entrance physicals annually because of their weight status and that 27% of young adults are unqualified for military service because of their weight.6 More than 100 retired generals and admirals signed onto this report and a campaign entitled: Mission: Readiness.
The eating habits learned in childhood, program the child to lifelong health or chronic disease related suffering. It is up to us parents to instill in our offspring the knowledge needed for a lifetime of better health. As they say, you are what you eat. And safe-guarding our children from obesity is a family affair as well as a societal priority.
As with the tobacco industry, we must require food industry messaging to be more truthful as well as less persuasive in cultivating the kind of addictions that hurt us all.
Also, we need to become as vigilant about food addiction as with any other addiction. Don Lemon was right in questioning one of his guests about our right to address obesity as any other addiction. Why are we so able to talk about alcohol or drug addiction, but we consider it quite taboo to address individuals about their food addictions? From his CNN show:
Fat America. Our addiction to food rivals drugs. More than one-third of all adults are obese. An addiction doctor says it's high time for tough love.
The trainers of NBC's 'Biggest Loser' say they aim to give families a wake-up call with the addition of teens to the weight-loss reality show.