Why Researchers Say You’re Destined to Remain Overweight
Fate, or destiny, isn’t typically something science addresses. But in the case of your waistline, the Fates may have something to say — and it may not be what you want to hear. The simple fact of the matter is that losing weight is hard — and the further from fit you are, the harder it becomes to get back on track.
Maintaining a balanced diet, along with developing healthy exercise habits, is a challenging prospect for a lot of people. Though the power of habit is powerful, and ultimately key in driving weight loss, the idea of painful exercise and leaving the comforts of our favorite foods can be too difficult to get over.
And that’s what researchers are finding about weight loss as well. A study of health records from the United Kingdom was recently published by King’s College London in the American Journal of Public Health, and came to the conclusion that if you’re obese, you have an extremely low chance of reaching a healthy body weight. For the severely obese, things are even bleaker.
“The annual probability of patients with simple obesity attaining a normal body weight was only 1 in 124 for women and 1 in 210 for men,” the study reads. For the severely obese, those odds decrease to 1 in 677 for women, and 1 in 1,290 for men.
Clearly, that’s a tough pill to swallow for those hoping to kick-start a new, healthy lifestyle. ScienceDaily covered the results as well, and was able to get some comments from the researchers as to why obesity is such an incredibly tough challenge to beat. From those comments, we’ve pulled three main reasons why obesity is increasingly becoming a worldwide problem. Though the study itself was done in the U.K., we’re applying the same logic to the U.S. — which we know has a worse obesity problem than most, if not all, nations on Earth.
1. Traditional programs are failing
“The main treatment options offered to obese patients in the UK are weight management programmes accessed via their GP,” said Dr. Alison Fildes, first author from the Division of Health and Social Care Research at King’s College London, per ScienceDaily. “This evidence suggests the current system is not working for the vast majority of obese patients.”
Clearly, Dr. Fildes has a point. Many of America’s programs for dealing with obesity have fallen flat, just as they are in the U.K. There are a number of reasons for it, and a big part of the problem is that people are resistant to change, or having someone tell them what to do. Just look at what happened when Michelle Obama tried to improve school lunches, for example.
Unfortunately, there’s no obvious or clear solution to this issue.
2. Prevention is key
The easiest way to combat the obesity epidemic is to nip it in the bud — and prevent people from becoming overweight in the first place. Unfortunately, we’re woefully unprepared to deal with it. And as mentioned previously, even attempts to get more nutritious school lunches in front of kids is met with huge resistance. With that in mind, new approaches to childhood diet and exercise will probably need to be implemented, and parents will need to take on the responsibility of providing nutritious, balanced meals (when and if they can) with vigor.
“Obesity treatments should focus on preventing overweight and obese patients gaining further weight, while also helping those that do lose weight to keep it off,” said Dr. Fildes. “More importantly, priority needs to be placed on preventing weight gain in the first place.”
3. Public health policy needs to be revamped
We know that traditional programs are failing, and the objective for policy makers will be to develop and implement systems that show promise.
Professor Martin Gulliford of King’s College London said that simply aiming for better meals and more exercise won’t do the trick — revamped policy measures are needed to tackle the problem. “Current strategies to tackle obesity, which mainly focus on cutting calories and boosting physical activity, are failing to help the majority of obese patients to shed weight and maintain that weight loss. The greatest opportunity for stemming the current obesity epidemic is in wider-reaching public health policies to prevent obesity in the population.”
In essence, researchers say that taking on obesity is going to take a societal effort, not just from those who are overweight. The costs are societal, in terms of healthcare, and there’s no sign that things are going to turn around soon. While the prospects are bleak for the overweight, some major structural changes at the highest levels should, as the study says, lead to positive change in the future.
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