Exploring Commonly Held Weight Loss Beliefs:Let’s Separate the FACTS, the MYTHS and the Unproven PRESUMPTIONS.


A recent New England Journal of Medicine  article http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1208051  explored commonly held weight loss beliefs, separating them into FACTS,MYTHS and unproven PRESUMPTIONS.

This week’s BLOG is devoted to the FACTS – i.e., the things we do know with reasonable confidence that are supported by good scientific evidence.

Included among the FACTS are the following:

  • Obesity is best treated as a chronic condition  – like hypertension or hyperlipidemia- requiring on-going management to maintain long-term weight loss.

Meal replacements, and/or diet prescription medications, with behavioral modification, exercise and diet counseling under medical supervision provide an ideal forum to attain the goal of long term weight loss.

  • Some prescription drugs can help achieve meaningful weight loss and maintain the weight reduction as long as they continue to be used.

Fortunately, there are new prescription diet medications approved by the FDA which have increased the options available.

  • Better weight loss is achieved with meal-replacement products according to medical literature.

Providing  diet foods containing protein derived from egg white, milk and other hi-quality proteins that are low in calories (and tasty) is essential in attaining this goal.

  • Although heredity plays an important role it is not destiny!

Moderate environmental changes, diet foods and prescription medications can still promote weight loss in spite of genetics and metabolism.

  • Regular exercise has been shown to help achieve long-term weight maintenance.

Physical activity is vital, but it must be vigorous, aerobic and consistent (5-7 days/week) to help attain long term weight maintenance.

  • Increased levels of exercise increase health, even without weight loss and regardless of body weight.

Medical studies have repeatedly demonstrated that regular aerobic exercise improves health, and reduces risk factors, in many other ways.



Our next BLOG will probe the commonly held beliefs which are unproven PRESUMPTIONS.

Exploring Commonly Held Weight Loss Beliefs: Let’s Separate the FACTS, the MYTHS and the Unproven PRESUMPTIONS.


This week’s BLOG is devoted to some commonly held weight loss beliefs which are actually MYTHS – i.e., scientifically incorrect, & false – as identified in a recent NEJM publication.

Included among the MYTHS are:

  • “Small but regular increases in physical activity will produce large long term weight loss” For example, it has been claimed that walking 1 mile per day will result in a weight loss of >50 lb over a 5 year period. In truth, the total weight loss will only be about 10 lb based on recent studies using computational models to determine energy expenditure and predict weight change in humans.
  • “Losing weight too fast results in less weight loss in the long term” In fact, in several weight loss trials, more rapid and greater initial weight loss has been associated with lower body weight at the end of long term follow-up.
  • “Breast feeding is protective against future obesity in the child” Actually, the existing scientific data indicate breast-feeding does not have an effect on future obesity, although it does have other important benefits for both infant and mother and should therefore be encouraged.
  •  “Sexual intercourse burns 100-300 kcal for each participant” The truth is, a man in his early to mid 30’s expands about 21 kcal during sexual intercourse – far less than is commonly claimed.

Our next BLOG will deal with the commonly held beliefs which are true FACTS.