Successful weight loss programs all agree that participants lose at least 5-10% of their weight in the early phases of the program and up to 90% of participants maintain a healthy weight for between six and 12 months afterwards. So losing weight is not a problem and yet weight loss is big business because so many of us need continual help to keep the weight off.
Obesity is a constellation of complex problems that grow slowly in our minds and bodies.
A smorgasbord of tried and tested remedies are on offer in the 200-plus research articles published each day: drugs, physical activity, low calorie/low fat diet, regular breakfast, self confidence, commitment to lifelong change, therapeutic alliances with clinicians, long term self help groups, face to face/web-based interventions, successfully managed concomitant diseases such as diabetes; and keeping low levels of depression and the rest.
The problem with all these offerings is that every one of them can be found wanting.
The umbrella term “obesity” does not, as it implies, equal one successful treatment and a single long-term maintenance plan. Obesity is a constellation of complex problems that grow slowly in our minds and bodies and require a range of strategies.
But for many sufferers the lifetime plan is an uphill battle. Even just taking 30 to 60 minutes a day to consider each one of the dozen or so proven techniques e.g. diet, exercise, psychological commitment, would leave little time for thinking about anything else, let alone sleeping, working, family and socializing. No wonder few can sustain a healthy weight.
Just as our minds lose motivation after prolonged attendance at support group, our bodies refuses to lose weight if left too long on the same restrictive diet. Sustainable healthy weight requires attention to a range of activities at different times. The idea that we can tackle everything at once is just not sustainable.
Weight maintenance shouldn’t be an unpaid fulltime job. It should be as simple as those other routine healthy activities we already rotate successfully in our lives like immunisations and check ups. We need to challenge the obesity industry to come up with composite solutions that are sustainable. Because right now all we have is a lot of short-term products with obsolescence built by an industry whose voracious goal is to feed a desperate market.