Weight loss: The Skinny on Fad Diets
Dr. Thomas Patavino of Thoracic Park Alternative Health

                        Obesity is a growing concern in the United States. It has been estimated that 61% of Americans suffer from obesity. That percentage predicts that 58 million people are overweight, 40 million meet the criteria for obesity and over 3 million people are classified as morbidly obese.1 The numbers are startling without question. One question seems to be on many peoples minds, regardless if they are 5 pounds over weight or a hundred: How do I lose weight?

                        This question has probably been asked since the first caveperson noticed their loincloth was fitting a little too snug. Probably not too long after the first diets were probably created. From that point on, it has been man's constant struggle to find the secret to not only lose weight, but also keep off those undesirable pounds for good. The everlasting search for a magic bullet so to speak.  That bullet has come in forms of diet pills, fasting and every diet you could think of, but where's the magic? Does dieting work for everyone and will the results last?

                        Once again, with dieting there appears to be more questions than answers. Diets have come in so many varieties. We have seen the popcorn diet, which allowed people to eat troughs of the tasty treat and still manage to shed a few pounds. If popcorn wasn't your thing, then how about grapefruit or cabbage soup diet? These diets didn't seem appeal to the masses for obvious reasons.  One diet that did take off and is probably the most well known of all the fads was the Atkin's diet. Dr. Robert Atkins found his way into America's hearts as dieters waged war on carbohydrates. The Atkin's program was soon joined by the Zone diet, the Blood Type diet and South Beach diet.

                         With all of these choices available, which diet is the best? Diets are difficult for most people to stick to. The average person will not eat cabbage soup for very long. I'm willing to bet that anyone that tried the popcorn diet will probably never eat another kernel again in this lifetime. Atkins seemed to appeal to many people because it allowed the consumption of almost anything but a carbohydrate. A diet with unlimited bacon sounds tastier than cabbage to most people.  All three of these diets have two things in common. First, the average person will lose weight and second, they are all unhealthy over extended periods of time. People lose weight because they are consuming less calories it's that simple. There is no magic in popcorn, cabbage or by eliminating bread. Fewer calories are eaten with these diets compared to the caloric intake of your average meal, so weight loss is initiated.

               The problem with these diets is that there is health risks associated over time. Elimination diets deplete the body of essential nutrients that are required for normal and optimal health. In addition, the protein content associated with the Atkin's diet has been linked to kidney damage over extended periods of time.2 Diets high in cholesterol and animal fats are well publicized for increasing the risk for cardiovascular complications. Although weight loss is achieved many people increase their risks for other health concerns. Most diets has their pros and cons, and one could argue or advocate the validity until they turn blue in the face without answering the question of which diet is best.

               The true secret of weight loss is lifestyle modification. Any diet will work for a short time, but most people can't keep the weight off because of the restrictions one must adhere to. A well balanced diet and moderate exercise tend to outlast the short- term results obtained by yo-yo fad dieting over time. A lifestyle modification isn't an overnight process and it won't be the same for everyone. However, learning to eat correctly and adding a regular exercise routine will outlast the newest trends in dieting.  Unfortunately there are no magic bullets and the search for the right weight loss formula will be an ongoing quest. Weight loss is a difficult goal to achieve but it is not impossible. Regardless of which weight loss program is chosen, remember your health should never be compromised in the process.  


1.Source: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a branch of NIH
2. Knight EL, Stampfer MJ, Hankinson SE, Spiegelman D, Curhan GC. The impact of protein intake on renal function decline in women with normal renal function or mild renal insufficiency. Ann Intern Med. 2003 Mar 18;138(6):460-7.

 Dr. Thomas Patavino can be reached at (203)758-7250 or by email dr.tpatavino@sbcgloblal.net.