If you have ever tried a fad diet, chances are the results were disappointing. You may be unaware of the misinformation and myths about weight loss preventing you from making good decisions. Here are 3 myths about weight loss that may help you make progress toward your goals.
Myth #1: A lack of self-discipline causes obesity
All of us have an innate preference for high-calorie food. Our bodies are designed to store excess calories as fat as a key survival mechanism. This may have been useful for our ancestors’ survival when hunting and gathering limited amounts of food. However, in modern society, many individuals are consuming excess calories everyday that promotes significant weight gain. Processed junk foods, which are common today, did not even exist years ago. Knowing that junk food is unhealthy won’t stop you from craving it. In fact, we naturally crave foods that are sugary, fatty, or starchy because these are higher-calorie foods. Furthermore, gaining weight in the face of high-calorie junk foods is exactly how the body was designed to react. [Ref 1]. In other words, obesity is a normal response to eating abnormal food. [Ref 2]. The problem is not a lack of willpower. Instead, it has everything to do with the type of food that we eat.
Myth #2: A lack of exercise is the main cause of obesity
Have you ever tried exercising to lose weight without changing your diet? Researchers found that the obesity epidemic cannot be blamed on inactivity. Although physical activity is important, the more important factor is diet. More people are consuming excess calories. [Ref 3]. In the U.S. from 1980 to 2005, physical activity levels did not decline. Nevertheless, the obesity rate for adults increased from 8% to 22%. [ Ref 4] Don’t get me wrong, exercise is beneficial for overall health and helps maintain normal body weight, but it is not as impactful as the diet.
Myth #3: Your genes are the main cause of obesity
Do you feel like it could be impossible for you to achieve a normal body weight becauuse your parents were obese? Do you believe that genetics has already decided your fate? Researchers looked for answers by studying a group of Native Americans in Arizona known as Pima. When the Europeans colonized America, they diverted the Pima’s water source, known as the Gila River. This triggered a famine that killed off much of the Pima population. Those who survived were forced to rely on the government for food instead of their traditional diet. This sudden change in diet caused an explosion of obesity and type 2 diabetes in Pima Native Americans. It is now known that they indeed have a true genetic predisposition for obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, they did not manifest obesity and poor health until after they were traumatized and forced to eat unhealthy food. [Ref 5] Today in underserved areas of the U.S. with predominantly black and brown people, food deserts offer limited access to fresh produce. Not surprisingly, the residents are experiencing alarming rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. If you are seriously thinking about losing weight, the food in your diet is more important than your willpower, physical activity, or genetics. If you are concerned about losing weight PLUS maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, you’re probably wondering where to even start. I recommend that you watch my FREE training, 3 Things You Must Know to Control Your Blood Sugar. The strategies for balancing blood sugar will also support healthy weight loss and well-being.
Ref 1. Katz D. Obesity . . . be dammed!: what it will take to turn the tide. Harvard Health Policy Rev. 2006;7(2):135–51.
Ref 2. Rutter H. Where next for obesity? Lancet. 2011;378(9793):746–7.
Ref 3. Vandevijvere S, Chow CC, Hall KD, Umali E, Swinburn BA. Increased food energy supply as a major driver of the obesity epidemic: a global analysis. Bull World Health Organ. 2015;93(7):446–56.
Ref 4. Westerterp KR, Speakman JR. Physical activity energy expenditure has not declined since the 1980s and matches energy expenditures of wild mammals. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008;32(8):1256–63.
Ref 5. Schulz LO, Bennett PH, Ravussin E, et al. Effects of traditional and western environments on prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Pima Indians in Mexico and the U.S. Diabetes Care. 2006;29(8):1866–71.
Carla Hightower, MD, MBA is a physician, health coach, workplace wellness consultant, and speaker. She helps people heal themselves with food. Through wellness workshops and courses, she helps companies create healthy, energetic teams.
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