Thought for Food, Part 2: A Great Weight-Loss Supplement?

Val Jones, MD, MA


November 14, 2005

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Americans spend over $50 billion per year on weight-loss plans, diet food, and supplements,[1] and yet obesity rates are climbing in 49 of 50 states.[2] In fact, experts agree that 80% to 95% of Americans regain all the weight they lose in the time it took them to lose it.[3] What are we doing wrong? Why do our best efforts produce such dismal results?

The answer is complex, and yet I think it is partially rooted in psychology. Human beings hunger for variety. Consider the fashion industry: Each season brings new styles, fabrics, and color palettes. We enjoy buying new clothes, not because we need them, but because it's exciting to have something new and different. Similar reasoning may lead to decreased diet adherence. After a few months on a particular diet, we lose interest and begin to "cheat." This loss of interest is entirely predictable.

Instead of self-flagellation about diet failure, I think we should accept our nature, and plan for it. Long-term weight loss must involve creative, dynamic solutions that maintain our interest in calorie restriction and exercise. For example, what about rotating the diets we follow, knowing in advance that we're going to lose interest in the one we're currently on, and switching to the next one before our compliance wanes? I don't know if such a plan would improve long-term weight-loss success, but I do know that we have to find weight-loss solutions that are more harmonious with our short attention spans and desire for all things new. "Variety is the spice of life," and it may be a great weight-loss supplement as well.

That's my opinion, and I'd like to hear yours. I'm Dr. Val Jones, Editor of MedGenMed's Clinical Nutrition & Obesity eSection.

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