Ironically, our society is plagued with a fascination for physical appearance and food. There is no shortage of weight loss programs, detoxes, diet pills, wearable technologies and exercise regimes. Carrying excess weight comes with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, arthritis and cancer. A 2010 report determined that overweight and obesity costs amounted to 4.1% of Canada’s health care budget ($6 billion), which is probably an understatement.

So, with the plethora of resources, knowledge of health care problems and costs, why are 1 in 4 Canadian adults and 1 in 10 Canadian children obese? Who or what is to blame? Food choices? Genetics? Our sedentary North American lifestyle? Lack of exercise?

Why eating less does not equal weighing less

One barrier to weight loss occurs when obese people cut calories. Each individual has a unique and specific healthy weight of which the human body is aware. When some people lower caloric intake, their metabolism responds by slowing down to conserve energy. This is known as the thrifty metabolism and has recently been confirmed in a scientific study. This means that losing weight is not solely about willpower, self-control and eating less, but has a biological aspect.

A recent study found that exercise alone does not promote weight loss. Sorry guys, don’t eat that chocolate brownie expecting to work it off at the gym the next day. You can’t outrun a bad diet, but exercise does lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, dementia, heart disease and some forms of cancer.

So, how do you lose weight?

Be responsible and understand that diets don’t work. Basically, it’s all about portion control, eating primarily whole foods, fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly (thus, nothing you haven’t heard already). Here are some tips that are loosely based on science, but nevertheless, may prove helpful.

Finally, I do believe that worrying about your weight and yo-yo dieting is far worse for your mental and physical health than being a few pounds overweight. Life is too short to spend it unhappy in your own skin.

Further reading:

We know little about the effect on health. That’s why there is so much written about it. 

Obese people lose weight based on their biology. Will future treatment be based on personal medicine?

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