Americans have known for 15 years that obesity is an epidemic; the surgeon general declared it so in 2001
(PDF). 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.
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.
Myth 2: Setting realistic goals when you are trying to lose weight is important because otherwise you will feel frustrated and lose less weight.
Patients often come in with ambitious goals for weight loss, and we as family physicians nearly always say- go for it! (within safety and reason). There is no evidence that shooting for the stars leads to frustration. If anything, aiming for a larger goal may lead to better weight-loss outcomes.
Myth 3: Losing a lot of weight fast doesn't keep weight off as well as losing a few pounds slowly.
Again, studies have shown that losing a larger amount of weight fast in the beginning (maybe while you are super motivated) has been associated with lower weight in the long-term. There just isn't evidence to go "slow and steady" when it comes to weight loss.
Why we regain weight after drastic dieting
Finally, to our favorite one:
Myth 4: Having sex one time burns about as many calories as walking a mile.
Sorry to disappoint, but for an average sexual encounter (lasting 6 minutes!), an average man in his 30s burns just 20 calories. And as the NEJM articles further explains, this is just 14 more calories than just sitting and watching TV. So if the thought went through your head that sex may be your exercise for the day, you should think again.