Forty million Americans and ten million Britons are plagued with excess weight. Are you one of them? How about your children or relatives? Here's what you can do about it.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN reading this article be sure you understand this point: You CAN lose weight no matter how obese you are. One individual, 6 feet 3 inches and weighing 802 pounds reduced down to 232 pounds by age 39 — a loss of 570 pounds. Many dozens have lost 200 pounds or more — and kept it off. All in all, overweight Americans, Britons, Canadians, and Australians have lost well over a million tons! But the sad sequel to that story is that most of the weight was gained back. Quick weight loss (and gain) is easy, but very few people maintain a slow weight loss with no gain. It is estimated that only about two percent of clinically supervised overweight patients are successful in attaining their proper weight and maintaining that weight for a year. That's not very encouraging news to the millions of overweight people, most of whom either hopscotch from one fad diet to another or else totally give up the hope of ever losing weight. If that's your dilemma, do yourself a favor — read just one more article on overweight — this one! The only workable way to lose weight, and maintain that weight loss, is contained in the principles of this article, compiled from the writings and records of the world's most successful nutritionists and weight-loss experts.
Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness
Your first motivation to lose weight should be in the interest of life itself. If you are 20 percent overweight (about 30 pounds for most people), chances are you will die seven years before your time. Compare this with an average four years loss of life for the person who smokes 25 cigarettes a day during his adult life. Being a mere ten pounds overweight can carry a greater health risk than smoking 25 cigarettes a day. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company compared the likelihood of death for those rated as overweight compared to those of normal weight, ages 25 to 74. Here are their results: The greater likelihood for death from any cause, at any age, was 47% higher than normal for overweight women, and 50% greater for overweight men. For all adults death by heart diseases was 63% more likely, death from liver diseases ranged between 90 and 100% more likely, death from diabetes was 275% more likely, and even mortal accidents were 24% more likely for the overweight client. Experience has shown, however, that few overweight people are motivated to action by these statistics. It takes a heart attack, or a similar trauma to stir them to serious action. Then, it may be too late. Most overweight people are primarily motivated to reduce by a desire to look better, to please a mate or boyfriend, or to compete in sports or in a job. Everyone wants the freedom to run, walk, swim, climb stairs, lift, pull, or even stand for long periods of time without fear of physical collapse — freedom to enjoy life to its fullest. To escape the mental crutch of wrong eating habits is to know freedom, liberty, a renewed confidence. No more cruel jokes, no more heart flutter at the end of a flight of stairs, no more social rebuffs, followed by eating or crying jags. This freedom should be your strong secondary motivation — second to life. Life and liberty free you to pursue right happiness. Your family, your hobbies, your work, and your friends become your whole life — instead of your food and your body being the center of the universe. Thousands of success stories have demonstrated that a new successful life opens up when you "kick the habit." While kicking the habit, you don't have the advantage of going "cold turkey" like an alcoholic or drug addict. You've got to eat to live. The key to weight loss is what you eat, and what you burn up.
The Multiple Causes of Overweight
But complicating a person's efforts to lose weight are such varied factors as his background, his job, his eating habits (both past and present), his home environment, his heredity, and his society. Most overweight people have two strikes against them, environmental and hereditary. When both parents are overweight, the child's chances are 80% of becoming overweight; if one parent is obese, the child's chances are 40%. If both parents are normal, the chances of a child being obese shrink to 10%. Most of this inheritance is not through the scapegoats of "heavy bones" or "glands" or "water retention," but simply through the parents setting a wrong example! The "third strike" is delivered by our society. We live in a sedentary world: sitting in school as children; sitting on jobs as parents; sitting in cars; sitting in front of TV's and motion pictures; and sitting at leisure. Even military cadets and coal miners recline, sit, and stand over 18 hours out of each 24. Society also provides us with "convenience foods" which multiply calories, but don't nourish. You've probably never been "filled up" by a TV dinner, but it adds hundreds of "empty" excess calories. Our grandparents, living on relatively low-calorie natural foods, and exercising as a way of life, were able to combat both of these "calorie conspiracies" which afflict today's sedentary society. If you are overweight, resist the temptation to blame your heredity, environment, society, parents, grocer, or any other quick scapegoat. It is ultimately YOUR fault. Nobody force-fed you.
How NOT to Lose Weight
When you know the one and only principle for losing weight — eating fewer calories than you consume — it is fairly obvious why most diets and reducing plans do not work. Because of glowing reports of unbelievable losses, millions of overweight people turn to the myriad diet "fads." Depending on your particular weakness, you can choose a drinking man's diet, a high-protein diet, a high-fat diet, a high carbohydrate diet, or even a Zen Buddhist "spiritual diet." There is the "Air Force diet," which the Air Force vehemently disowns, or the "Mayo clinic diet" which the Mayo Clinic disowns. There's a diet of grapes, a diet of grapefruits, a diet of greens, and just about any one-food regimen short of Luther's Diet of Worms. Fad diets, however, don't work — in the long run — and they can be very dangerous to health, especially over extended periods of time. Dr. Morton Chenn, Chief of the Nutrition Clinic of New York City's Health Department, has called them a "major health pollutant." Unfortunately, fad diets are essentially symptomatic of the problem which brought the person to his present obesity. That is, many dieters have never learned to eat correctly. Fad diets promise a way to continue wrong eating patterns — with supposedly different results! Such is not the case. Advocates of fad diets usually do lose 15 to 30 pounds in a matter of a month or so. This weight loss could be maintained if the person continued to give up the forbidden foods for the rest of his life. But on most fad diets, those "forbidden foods" contain necessary nutrients he has temporarily missed — the protein in meat, eggs, milk, and cheese; or the carbohydrates in fruit, bread, or milk; or the vitamins and minerals in liver, green vegetables, or milk. Here is the fad dieter's dilemma — 1) either quick weight gain if he goes back to those foods, or 2) detrimental side effects if he doesn't. There is no way to win. He hasn't permanently lost those 20 pounds or so. According to Dr. Jules Hirsch, professor and senior physician at Rockefeller University, the fat cells which shrunk in size are still alive and functioning — "sending out metabolic signals" to "fill up" with the forbidden family of foods, which most people do (much of the dramatic weight loss was just water, anyway). The greatest crime of fad diets is that the dieter didn't learn anything. He has not learned discipline, and chances are he will gorge his way back to obesity faster than ever. As a result, the "fad" dieter is usually worse off than when he started. His hopes are frustrated. He begins "diet hopping" from one plan to another. A defeatist syndrome ensues.
The ONLY Way to Lose Weight
The only way to lose weight permanently is to take in fewer calories than you burn up in activities. Each pound loss will require a 3500 calorie "deficit." If you are 30 pounds overweight, for instance, you will have to manage a 100,000 calorie "deficit" over the next few months. It's easier than you may think! In fact, enjoyable. A paragraph from a well-known nutrition textbook sums up the best principles for doing this. "For the ordinary overweight individual (this is you, if you are among the 99 out of 100 without a medical problem), by far the most satisfactory way to effect weight reduction is simply to cut down sharply on the concentrated energy foods (sugars, starches, and fats), while maintaining an otherwise well-balanced and adequate diet. Such a diet does not involve actually going hungry." "It should be, as far as possible, a diet one likes and is willing to use indefinitely" (Nutrition and Physical Fitness, p. 461). There is the vital key most dieters ignore! Your diet has to be a way of life. You must live with these foods (and exercises) the rest of your life. You must undertake a program to reprogram your taste buds. It's widely understood that a weight loser cannot allow himself the luxuries of rich desserts, pastries, or most packaged and prepared "goodies." But the key is not stoic self-denial. The key is educating yourself to enjoy a balanced diet for the rest of your life. It involves a new attitude toward food.
What Type of Diet is Best?
"Diets" won't work — for most people. Nobody's life is so regimented that they can eat the same foods at the same hour day in and day out. Such dull dieting is not necessary. Calorie counting is also a bothersome chore that most dieters abandon, with good reason. However, there are a number of effective weight reducing programs (not "diets") today which offer wholesome, balanced, nutritionally sound plans for consistent, safe, and delicious continued weight loss. Dramatic results do not occur overnight. But encouraging and noticeable results take place within weeks. And the 99% of overweight people who DON'T have medical problems WILL reach their ideal weight "legally" within a few short months. Ten pounds loss per month is normal — IF the program is honestly followed. And the weight stays off, because proper eating habits are firmly established by months of diligent usage. As you lose weight, your body consumes slightly fewer calories per day, and your weight will automatically level off at where it should be. Proper weight reduction programs, such as Weight Watchers, are based on taking in fewer calories, even though the members do not officially "count" calories. The program prescribes "unlimited" low-calorie foods, and specifically limited, although generous, portions of medium-calorie food. The highly successful Weight Watchers International, and its many imitative competitors, require you to eat everything listed, because each course of food contains vital nutrients. Sometimes the required food is much more quantity than the dieter is used to. We highly recommend food programs like Weight Watcher's, which are based on most of the proper principles of weight reduction. They prescribe good food, plenty of it, delicious new recipes, and an environment of people who share similar goals. But there are some cautions: don't join unless you're really serious about losing weight. Don't kid yourself, or "cheat," because you'll only be cheating yourself. Also, if you are confident in your own willpower, you may want to follow a proper eating program on your own without joining a club. If so, obtain the proper program of eating, and follow it alone. But remember, experience shows that most people need help — from their family or overweight friends in a club. A third point to remember is that proper eating habits are not enough. Proper food is the most important point by far. But proper exercise is also important and helpful toward weight loss, despite what any "food-only" program may tell you.
The Role of Exercise
You can lose weight without exercise, BUT you can lose a pound more per week with exercise. More importantly, you will feel better and your weight will be muscle and tissue, not fat. The people in our "have" nations and Western democracies are not the vigorous, out-of-doors, physically active people they once were. We don't get as much daily physical activity as our grandmothers and grandfathers did. The average worker, though, would rather ride than walk, use elevators rather than climb stairs, and use pushbutton machines rather than elbow grease. Our complete life-style has changed. And with the change has come extra weight. What kind of exercise helps you lose weight? Intensive cardiovascular sports such as handball, basketball, tennis, or squash burn up 10 calories a minute, or 600 per hour. True, that's less than an average meal's worth of calories, but an hour of such exercise for six days a week burns off over a pound a week! This is in addition to your weight loss based on better eating habits. Most overweight people should not jump into such heavy activity immediately, without a doctor's approval. For most overweight people over 40, a lot of brisk daily walking is more appropriate. Walking burns 5 calories a minute (for a 150-pound person walking 3½ miles per hour), or 300 calories per hour. Walk to work or to a bus stop if possible, then walk as much as possible while at work or home. If neither of these activities are possible, take an evening walk alone or with the family (if it's safe to walk alone on your streets!). Many doctors endorse walking as the best all-around exercise for most overweight people.
Exercise for Life
Remember that the "way of life" principle applies in exercise as well as dieting. One day a week will make very little difference, but daily exercise will help — if continued as a lifetime practice! It is important to realize that exercise alone is one of the hardest ways to "diet." A change in eating habits is of primary importance, since a fat person is highly limited in the amount of exercise he or she can do. Even in normal sitting, standing, or walking activities, obese people are much less active, by actual motion studies, than physically trim people. But the role of exercise in weight control should not be ridiculed as it sometimes is. Many feel exercise can't burn up many calories, or that if they exercise there will be an automatic increase in appetite to cancel out the good effects. The facts prove otherwise. Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer states, "Too often, these misstatements have been popularized by clinicians and nutritionists who, though well and extensively informed in other matters, have never tested the validity of these particular propositions." The very fact that farmers "fatten up" their livestock by preventing exercise (by penning them in) shows the ridiculousness of the "no-exercise" school.
Devising YOUR Plan
The proper kind of weight loss plan frees you up, allows snacks, breaks, and enjoyment. The right plan for you fits your needs, fits your schedule, fits your fatness and fitness. It frees you to get your real kicks out of life instead of food. You'll get new enjoyment out of your work, your friends, family and hobby. Food will be on the "back burner" of your mind. To repeat the basic principles, your program should include: 1. Fewer calories eaten, through a program of eating only the right foods. 2. More calories burned up by a program of exercise. 3. A life-long way of living; food you can live with the rest of your life. 4. A slow, deliberate diet, allowing at least a month for each 10 pounds overweight. 5. The help of others — your family, doctor, and friends. 6. A motivation based on longer life, freedom from compulsive eating, and the pursuit of happiness. 7. Drive, resourcefulness, and stick-to-it-iveness. Yes, it will take character. But the successful reducers can tell you by experience it will be fantastically rewarding, and remarkably enjoyable! Many people that we talked with, who had been overweight for years before reducing, said they felt like "new people." They felt younger, healthier, had a brighter outlook on life and were generally much happier. Many remarked they didn't understand why they hadn't reduced a long time ago. And more important, they have experienced a deep and profound sense of personal accomplishment. That accomplishment will be yours if you follow these principles. If you really want to be a new person, and you don't have a workable plan to lose weight, seek help from a qualified nutritionist today. Plan your course of action. Start your weight-losing campaign tomorrow morning — it's the first day of the rest of your life.
Help for Overweight Children by Gary L Alexander
ADULT OBESITY has been called one of America's major health problems. But for increasing numbers of overweight children, there is a similar cause for concern. Contrary to the popular image of the "jolly" fat child, most overweight children are not happy. All too often their fat is the butt of classmates' jokes. Because they're more clumsy and lack agility, they find themselves left out of many activities. Frequently, such children are social outcasts. Parents need to understand that they quite often share the responsibility for their children being overweight. A recent study by Dr. Jules Hirsch and several colleagues at Rockefeller University showed that overfeeding of infants and young children may build up an excess number of fat cells. All children are born with approximately the same percentage of fat cells in their bodies. Yet, obese adults have a much higher percentage of fat cells than normal-weight individuals. These researchers concluded that the extra fat cells may have been accumulated early in life through overfeeding. The result would be that such children are predisposed (though not condemned) to a lifetime of obesity. Childhood obesity is a very serious matter. The problem should be solved as early as possible. For, the older the child, the more difficult it will be to help him reduce. And if you have an overweight child, the first step to correcting the situation is to discover exactly why he is that way; then you can begin to do something about it. The following points will be of help in nearly every case.
I. Emotional Stability
One obvious reason for obesity in children is overeating. But what is often overlooked is that an obese child's unbridled appetite may result from a lack of emotional balance. Parents should take an active part in helping their child to develop a wholesome and balanced personality. The child should be taught how to be responsible and productive and to cultivate a variety of interests and pursuits. He should be able to experience a sense of accomplishment, and also learn how to cope with disappointments. He should be taught to have a healthy outlook on life. Success, of course, depends on a secure, stable and balanced home environment. When there is some emotional stress in the home, youngsters may turn to food for consolation or security. For example, if a child is deprived of one of the greatest needs of all — the feeling of being loved and appreciated — he will suffer emotionally. His urge to satisfy his hunger for love may manifest itself in habitual overeating.
II. Avoid "Overfeeding"
If parents overindulge or overprotect their children, a serious pattern of overeating may also result. Many mothers unduly fret about their children having too little to eat. "I want my child well-padded so that if he gets sick, he won't be weakened by a loss of weight" some parents say. In pushing unwanted food on their children, however, such parents teach youngsters to stuff themselves in an involuntary effort to please their parents. This ingrains poor eating habits that may persist throughout life — and may cause early death. The need for a child to eat what is placed before him should be balanced by placing the right amount of food on his plate.
Overeating may explain many cases of child obesity — but certainly not all. Another factor now gaining more widespread attention is lack of exercise. In fact, inactivity may be a major cause for overweight children. Dr. Jean Mayer, one of the foremost researchers in the field of obesity, has said, "Repeated studies have shown that the great majority of obese adolescents eat less than the average non-obese adolescents of the same sex. The inactivity of the obese adolescent easily accounts for the calories which permit excessive fat deposition" (Overweight — Causes, Cost, and Control).
IV. Parental Example
Take a careful look at your own example. Are you overweight? Studies show that if both parents are obese, there is an 80 percent chance their children will become that way as adults. If both parents are slim, 90% of their children will be slim. Therefore, it is important to ask yourself: "Do I consistently overeat?" and "How much exercise do I get?" Children usually mimic their parents in many ways. Diet and activity are not exceptions. If you are setting a poor example in these areas, children will automatically pick up wrong eating and exercise habits. However, by setting the right pace for your overweight child, you are supplying the confidence that he desperately must have to change. Many youngsters often lack the self-discipline or motivation to effectively reduce. But your new example can provide the encouragement and hope that he really needs.
V. Choosing Right Meals
For instance, teach your child to eat well-balanced, nutritious, and relatively low-calorie meals. A typical weight-loss diet should contain roughly 1500 to 2000 calories. But don't get too picky about diet restrictions. Stress the positive — tell your child what he may eat; not just what he should avoid. If snacking has been a problem, see that your youngster eats only at regular intervals. Your child may not initially like his new manner of eating. But you can overcome this problem if you make the food as appealing as possible. There are many low-calorie cookbooks that will assist you.
VI. Avoid Fad Diets — Especially With Children
By all means, do not place your youngster on any fad or crash diet. These diets not only fail to instill lasting diet habits, but they can do irreparable damage in children. Such diets are nutritionally unbalanced. Some skimp on vital protein — others on carbohydrates or fats. But all three elements in proper amounts are essential for sound health in growing children. Children need more protein than adults, so don't apply adult diets to children without professional guidance.
Next, you must seek to make your child more active. But how can you encourage him to get more exercise? Constant nagging — such as "Why do you sit and watch television all day?" — won't do the job. It will only succeed in creating more frustration. Instead, make exercise a family endeavor. Include your overweight child in family hikes or bicycle trips. Encourage him to cultivate an active interest in sports by teaching him to play tennis, volleyball, or to participate in a number of other activities. He may feel self-conscious and awkward at first. But with real patience, praise, and encouragement on your part, your child will gradually gain more self-assurance and will even begin to join in with other boys and girls in their physical activities. In fact, encouragement should be the key word in any reducing program for obese children. Such youngsters have received enough embarrassment about their size — they don't need more. Genuine concern and love — but not "smother love" — combined with a sound regimen of diet and exercise will produce results in most cases. Your child will then be on the road to a healthier and happier life.