Treatment

6 Things You Think You Know About Weight Loss (But Don’t)

Sara Suchy Mar 6th, 2013 (updated May 19th, 2014)
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The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has identified six common assumptions about obesity and weight loss that could be true, but still haven’t been proven by scientific research.

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Eating breakfast = weight loss
Eating breakfast = weight loss

Let’s be clear: breakfast is an important meal. But will it help you lose weight and prevent obesity? Researchers say the importance of breakfast, in terms of weight loss, may be exaggerated. Two randomized control studies showed that whether a person ate breakfast or not had no effect on weight loss. Bottom line: eat breakfast, but don’t depend on it to help you lose weight. 

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Old habits die hard
Old habits die hard

Adults with a normal, healthy weight can thank the healthy eating habits they acquired as children for their trim figure, right? Well, it seems likely, but no randomized, controlled clinical trial has ever come to this conclusion. It is more likely that a genetic predisposition to obesity is a larger factor than any learned eating behaviors.

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An apple a day
An apple a day

Eating fruits and vegetables will do wonders for you. But, it might be a stretch to assume just adding them to your diet will cause weight loss. An increase in fruit and vegetable consumption needed to be accompanied by improvements in other healthy habits (more physical activity, overall calorie reduction) before any weight loss happened, studies found. Without these lifestyle changes, the added veggies did not result in weight loss. 

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Yo-yo dieting is unhealthy
Yo-yo dieting is unhealthy

Weight cycling or “Yo-yo” dieting is a bane for many dieters. But, researchers at NEJM think the problem is not in the diet, but other health factors. People on diets may already have a chronic condition associated with being overweight, such as type 2 diabetes or heart disease. So the underlying poor health causes an increased risk of mortality in yo-yo dieters rather than any fluctuations in weight.

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No snacks
No snacks

Does a snack or two totally upend weight loss efforts? Not according to research. No study has been able to prove the common presumption that snacking between meals thwarts weight loss efforts. What will sabotage your diet is consuming more calories than you use on a daily basis for an extended amount of time. 

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No green space = no weight loss
No green space = no weight loss

Some experts believe people who live in neighborhoods without sidewalks or parks are at a higher risk of obesity. Without sidewalks, people are less likely to walk, rather than drive. These conclusions are based only on observational studies, and even those have had mixed results.