The Data that Dieting Doesn't Work

Does dieting work? Well, it depends on how success is measured. And what the medical and diet industry mean by success is not what ordinary people mean. Let me explain.[1]

 

In the 1940s, success was measured by getting people to a “normal” BMI (an unscientific height/weight ratio),[2] but diets didn’t help most people get there. So in the 1950s they simply changed the measure of success to losing 40lbs, but 95% of people couldn’t do that.[3] As a result, in the next decades, they simply lowered the bar again to 20lbs.[4] But 20lbs is quite different for someone who is 150lbs than someone who is 300lbs, so in the 1970s, they changed it, yet again, to 10% of one’s starting weight. But since 80% failed at this,[5] in 1995, the Institute of Medicine lowered it to 5%.[6] This is obviously nonsense.

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Weight Management

The Pitfalls Of The Usual Approach

The optimal weight for each person differs depending on sex, age, genetics, environment, lifestyle, and other variables. Because of today’s diet, fashion and media industry, as well as doctor’s recommendations (based on old fashioned height/weight charts created by insurance companies in the 40s and 50s), most people’s ideal weight goals are set too low. Too many people would like to have bodies like Gisele and Tom Brady and believe that with enough grit and willpower such transformation is possible. It is not. However, even those with far more modest goals routinely fail, as is shown by the well-known statistic that more than 95% of dieters gain their weight back. 

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