Several myths about weight drive an enormous amount of mental anguish in our society. They support the diet, food and exercise industries. They increase the risk of developing an eating disorder. And they cause an enormous amount of suffering and misery.
Here is a list of the top three with some explanation of the reality.
1 Diets work but just demand enough willpower.
Research study after research study has proven, without a doubt, that diets don't work. In fact, extensive research proves that diets inevitably lead to long term weight gain. Sustained periods of malnutrition push the body to release hormones that increase hunger over time and that lead to increased fat storage, all to avoid the risks from extended periods of famine.
1 Weight loss leads to improved health.
There is no correlation between weight and health. Despite clear evidence proving this point, doctors will often exhort patients to lose weight without recognizing they are only proponents of a powerful social bias. Health is attainable at any size.
1 Exercise leads to weight loss.
Exercise improves long term health significantly but leads to no sustained weight loss. The body compensates for exercise by needing more energy either through increased intake or extracting more calories from food, but long term research has shown no effective change in weight.
These myths all stem from our collective need to feel like we can lose weight. Since weight has become the paramount sign of success in our culture, people are willing to accept any means of losing weight even if ample evidence proves otherwise. However, the myths don't jibe with basic knowledge of how the body works. The next post will address what actually affects our weight: balance or, in medical terms, homeostasis.