The Perspective
   
SPRING 2011

I need to lose weight – FAST!

Lose weight without dieting! Melt away fat! Lose 30 pounds in 30 days! Detox your way to a thinner you!

The Risk of Obesity

Americans are obsessed about losing weight yet obesity rates continue to skyrocket.

In 2009, 25.8 percent of Nevada’s adults were considered obese compared to 13.3 percent in 1995. Currently, one in 10 Americans has diabetes and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reports that, if current trends continue, one in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050; obesity is a leading culprit.

“People are bombarded with mixed messages about diet and weight loss,” said Deborah Williams, manager of the Southern Nevada Health District’s office of chronic disease prevention and health promotion. “We’ve heard about all the fad diets and we spend time a great deal of time debunking them. Any diet that eliminates certain food groups or severely limits calories is a bad idea.”

“Your goal should be to maintain a healthy weight by eating a well-balanced diet and getting regular physical activity. Your body operates more efficiently at a healthy weight and your risk of developing a chronic disease is dramatically decreased. Losing just a few pounds can make a big difference,” said Williams.

The office of chronic disease prevention and health promotion received a $3.8 million, two-year Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant, funded through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The grant allows the health district and its community partners to support and put into place nutrition and physical activity programs.

Some well-known dieting myths include:

Diet Myth 1

Fasting is a good weight loss plan.

“Fasting is a terrible idea and can have long-term health consequences. Healthy food choices, moderate portions and physical activity are key to weight loss and good health,” said Aurora Buffington, a registered dietician and district health educator.

A prolonged fast can cause the following problems:

  • muscle breakdown
  • anemia
  • a weakened immune system
  • liver or kidney problems
  • an irregular heartbeat
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • dehydration and diarrhea
  • laxatives used during some fasts can cause fluid imbalances

The longer and more often you go on a fast, the more risks you take.

Woman on Scale

A dramatic decrease in calories signals your body to conserve energy and burn calories more slowly. Any initial weight loss is mostly fluid and not fat. Once you start eating normally your body will re-absorb lost fluids and you will gain the weight back. Most likely, you will gain more weight because your body is burning calories more slowly.

“Dramatic changes and restrictive diets set you up for failure,” added Buffington. “Our programs stress lifestyle changes you can incorporate into your routine and maintain on a long term basis.”

The health district’s Get Healthy Clark County website has information about how to make small but significant changes in your diet, assess obesity-related risks and increase physical activity.

One last issue related to fasting . . . “The idea that your body needs to be ‘cleansed’ is another ill-conceived concept,” said Buffington. “A healthy liver, kidneys, lungs, colon and skin do that job very well.”

Diet Myth 2

Eating at night makes you fat.

“Yes and no,” says Buffington. Your body processes food the same whether you eat at 8 a.m. or 8 p.m. Calories in and calories burned make a bigger difference than when you eat.”

Although there is no proof that eating at night makes you fat, evening snackers often opt for high calorie items and have little regard for portion control.

The health district has resources to educate people about healthy meals, beverages and snacks. Staff even offers group tours of the grocery store to show participants how to make healthful choices when they’re food shopping. Social media is used to help provide scientifically sound nutrition and wellness information to the community.

“Our YouTube channel has many videos available, including grocery aisle tours, how to manage your diet if you or a family member has diabetes, information about portion control, etc. to help people make changes to their diets so they minimize or eliminate their risk of disease,” said Williams.

Diet Myth 3

Going on a diet is the best way to lose weight.

Average vs. Model

Temporarily . . . so, forget about diets. Health educators say achieving a healthy weight takes a commitment supported by lifestyle changes.

A diet that cuts calories drastically will work in the short term, e.g. if you cut your daily calories to 1,200 you will likely lose weight, but 95 percent of people who lose weight will regain it . . . so dieting is not really the answer.

“We know about the myths, but eating right and physical activity are the only effective ways to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. There is no magic bullet,” added Buffington.

The Get Health Clark County website offers the following programs:

Staff also collaborates with community partners to offer programs, such as:

These programs serve to educate the public and eliminate health disparities in high-risk populations, with an end goal of fostering good health habits that raise the health status of the entire community.

For more information, visit www.GetHealthyClarkCounty.org. To subscribe to "The Perspective," complete our online form.

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