MedPage Today describes the widespread publication of false and unsupported claims about weight loss, caloric intake and dieting found in news reports, scientific reports and popular media. Unproven beliefs lead to useless and harmful medical and public health endorsements.
The New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 31, 2013 reported the results of a study by Casazza and colleagues at the University of Alabama at Birmingham that identified the common obesity-related myths by searching the contemporary media and the scientific literature to sort out the facts from false assumptions. The Alabama group compared the published results in the media with facts supported by scientific evidence. The results yielded seven obesity-related myths about elements of weight loss. The researchers found the following myths that lacked support from the scientific research:
*Slight changes in energy intake or output generate longer-duration weight loss
*Realistic goal statements lead to less frustrated trials of weight-lose
*Rapid shedding of many pounds leads to less long-term weight change
*Dieting readiness required for succeeding at weight loss
*Play in physical-education class represents an effective approach for weight loss
*Breast-feeding protects against a child from becoming obese
*Sexual activity produces 100-300 calories of energy expenditure
The authors of the research noted that the countless myths suggest a failure to take into account the various characteristics of energy balance and compensations undertaken by the body when attempting weight loss. Other myths and misconceptions continue to be propagated and contribute to the misinformation on this subject.
In Ethnicity and Disease in 2012, Robert Eckel, MD, from the University of Colorado, School of Medicine, details two evidence-based facts on weight loss to be embraced by the general public. Dietary intake with consumption of less caloric intake represents the key element in weight loss. Exercise performed with adequate frequency needs to complement a decrease in caloric intake and develop into a routine activity as a means to sustain weight loss. Further research remains ongoing and will add to practical information to assist individuals attempting weight loss.