Despite intense efforts to prevent and treat obesity, however, studies published June 7 in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 35 percent of men, 40 percent of women, and 17 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Even more worrisome, the rates continue to rise among women and adolescents.
In fact, experts predict that this generation of children may be the first in 200 years to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, likely due to obesity.
So what is our society doing wrong? Clearly, what doctors and policy makers have been doing for the last 15 years to address this epidemic is not working.
Weight loss myths have broad appeal
An article from 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) identified common myths surrounding obesity from popular media and scientific literature. The authors defined myths as ideas that are commonly held, but go against scientific data.
Could these myths be keeping us from treating obesity effectively? As family physicians who treat overweight patients every day, we believe they do. Not only can these myths discourage people, they also provide misinformation that can prevent people from reaching their weight loss goals.
You might be surprised to hear some of these myths:
Myth 1: Small changes in your diet or exercise will lead to large, long-term weight changes.
Unfortunately, this is not true. In weight loss, two plus two may only equal three instead of four. Small changes simply do not add up since physiologically, your body tries to stay the same weight. This doesn’t mean that making small healthy choices don’t matter, because even small things you do to stay healthy matter. It just means you are not likely to meet your weight loss goals by just taking one less bite. It’s likely going to take bigger changes in your diet and exercise.