In dieting and weight loss, one size just cannot fit all

Unless reasons for weight gain epidemic are well understood and habits change permanently, no diet is likely to succeed

Written by Ishi Khosla | Updated: June 11, 2016 12:31 am
health, world health organisation, WHO, diet, diet clinics, gyms, health farms, websites, books, supplements, nutrition information, awareness, lifestyle coaches, trainers, dieting, weight loss, health news According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.

Weight loss seems to have become a global obsession. Diets, diet clinics, gyms, health farms, websites, books, supplements, nutrition information, awareness, lifestyle coaches and trainers are growing at an unprecedented rate and the predilection for preventive health measures is at an all time high.

Indians are nearly spending $ 800 million annually on health checks; yet, success seems to be far and beyond. Obesity continues to grow exponentially around the world and this country is no exception.

According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980; 1 in 4 Indians is overweight and India is the third most obese country in the world. This is shocking in the wake of the fact that one-fourth of the country lives below the poverty line. Something obviously is being missed!

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The practice of dieting has become an epidemic; everyone is looking out for way to attain that perfect body. The fact, however, is that there is no perfect diet or one solution. Had there been one, someone would have come up with a formula by now.

From low calorie, low fat, low carb, good carb, to high protein, blood group, Atkin’s, General Motors, South Beach, Dunkan or the Paleo diet and the likes, nothing has truly worked. The truth is that when it comes to diet solutions — one size just cannot fit all. We are all different with respect to our ethnicity, genetics, family history, gender, age, health status (mental, physical and spiritual health), lifestyles and preferences. Thereby we also differ in what foods we tolerate or are sensitive to. So we really cannot reduce so many complexities into one diet or diet book. This explains the failure of diets across the world in curbing the epidemic of obesity. Unless the reasons for this epidemic of weight gain are well understood and addressed and unless habits are changed permanently, no diet is likely to succeed.

Also, let’s redefine success. Most people think of weight loss as a measure of successful diet. What people do not realise is that weight loss can never be permanent. According to estimates, nearly 65 per cent of dieters return to their pre-dieting weight within three years and nearly 95 per cent of those who follow crash diets regain their weight. Worse still, the regained weight is higher than the original one. Weight management has to be a daily affair, just like time or money management. A successful diet is one that gets you to achieve your target weight along with helping you sustain it. In fact, keeping the weight off is harder than losing it. Moreover, what most of us do not know is that the body actually tries to return back to its old weight by a physiological shift in hormones favouring regain. Worse still, the original weight is almost always higher than what you start with. Certainly, the regained weight is not a reflection on the lack of will power as we have so far believed. It is the way our bodies have been programmed.

So remember there are really no short cuts when it comes to weight loss and that perfect body. There is no perfect solution for a perfect body that works for everyone and moreover there is no permanent solution either. You will get the benefits of a trim body only until you follow the discipline. So follow the path you can live with — understand food, your body, your unique needs and challenges. The key is a “sustainable solution” for weight loss. In other words, the solution is in making it a way of life — the true meaning of the Greek word “Diet”.


Author is a clinical nutritionist and founder of and Whole Foods India

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