04 February 2013

Myths about obesity

To separate the facts from the generally accepted misconceptions about obesity and weight loss, a group of researchers working under the leadership of Dr. David Allison from the University of Alabama analyzed a huge number of articles published both in the media and in scientific journals. The authors have devoted their work to myths and beliefs concerning obesity, many of which people take at face value, despite the lack of convincing evidence.

Seven myths about obesity

Myth 1. Small constant changes in the level of consumption or burning of calories accumulate and in the long run lead to a more significant change in body weight.

Fact. These changes do not accumulate indefinitely. Changes in body weight eventually counterbalance any changes in calorie intake or burning.

Myth 2. Setting realistic goals is extremely important in the treatment of obesity. If the goals are not achieved, patients may get upset about this, which negatively affects the dynamics of weight loss.

Fact. A number of data shows that people achieve more if they set themselves more complex tasks.

Myth 3. Slow weight loss is better than getting rid of kilograms quickly. Quickly lost weight is more likely to come back.

Fact. In fact, people who quickly get rid of excess weight are more likely to maintain a slim figure after a long period of time.

Myth 4. You can get rid of excess weight only if you are "ready" for it. Specialist doctors should assess the patient's readiness to follow a diet.

Fact. The research results indicate that in relation to people seeking help in the treatment of obesity, the readiness assessment does not allow predicting weight loss and does not contribute to achieving results.

Myth 5. Currently practiced sports activities with children play an important role in the prevention of childhood obesity.

Fact. The physical education classes currently being conducted do not prevent obesity.

Myth 6. Breastfeeding in the future helps to prevent the development of obesity in a baby fed with breast milk.

Fact. Despite the fact that breastfeeding is beneficial for both the baby and the mother, the available data do not confirm its ability to protect against obesity.

Myth 7. One sexual act can provide burning up to 300 calories per person.

Fact. In fact, on average, sexual intercourse provides burning only about 1/20 of the above number of calories, which is not much more than the amount of energy spent on the couch.

Other assumptions and facts about obesityThe authors additionally consider 6 more beliefs that are considered to be true, despite the fact that additional research is necessary to obtain final conclusions.

For example, the results of a number of studies are presented as a fact, according to which the daily consumption of breakfast, compared with the refusal of this meal, contributes to weight loss. However, to date, the number of results obtained on this issue is not enough for final conclusions.

The same applies to common ideas, according to which eating vegetables in itself contributes to weight loss, while snacking between meals, on the contrary, increases body weight. The authors claim that there is too little convincing evidence of this, while some data look very unconvincing.

The researchers also cite nine facts about weight loss that have solid scientific evidence. For example, weight loss programs for children, in the implementation of which parents and other family members are involved, provide better results than programs implemented exclusively on the basis of educational and other institutions.

In addition, the results of earlier studies indicate a significant role belonging to hereditary factors in the predisposition to obesity. However, hereditary predisposition is not a verdict. Lifestyle changes and environmental conditions can trigger the process of weight loss no worse than appropriate drug therapy.

Reducing the caloric content of the diet effectively reduces body weight, but following such a diet for a long time is a very difficult task for many. Physical exercises are also important, but only with sufficient regularity of classes and loads that ensure the burning of more calories than is consumed with food.

Dr. Ellison and his colleagues tried to find out why the listed myths about obesity are so widespread among the public. As a result, they named several factors supposedly underlying this phenomenon.

One of them is that when an idea is repeated many times, a person begins to believe in its truthfulness.

Another factor is that some ideas are so attractive to a person that he does not want to give them up even if there are facts refuting them.

The last of the described factors is known as the tendency of a person to recognize only the information that confirms his own opinion.

In conclusion, the authors state that, fortunately, we have scientific methods and logical thinking at our disposal that will allow us to identify erroneous statements, refute them and deepen our understanding of the issue. In search of answers to questions, specialists should plan experiments as carefully as possible. As the effectiveness of the proposed strategies for weight loss and obesity prevention is evaluated, the scientific community should be frank with the public about what is already known and what remains to be found out.

Article by Krista Casazza et al. Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru according to Medical News Today:
Separating Fact And Fiction: Myths About Obesity.


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