Monday, March 17, 2008

Dieting — The Vicious Circle

So what are the consequences of all this failed dieting? How do dieters respond to diet-breaking?

Dieting becomes a vicious circle, a merry-go-round which is difficult to get off. And each time around the effects are more powerful, more destructive and the weight loss less.

Effects of long-term dieting

If dieters are not really losing weight, what are they actually doing? It seems that all dieters have one thing in common: they are thinking about dieting. They are thinking about eating less and thinking about losing weight, but not necessarily achieving either of these aims. Sometimes dieters lose weight and sometimes they don't, but they are constantly trying to. Dieters share a common state of mind.

In the short term, dieting can provide a structure, a means of encouragement and support and a way to change your life. In the long term, failed dieting results in depression, a preoccupation with weight and food and episodes of overeating.

Diet Start

A recently documented effect of dieting is a process called weight cycling. This applies to those women who sometimes manage to lose weight but find that they put it back on again.

Have you ever dieted, lost weight and put back on more weight?

Have you ever dieted, lost weight, put it back on and next time around found it more difficult to lose?

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are involved in a weight cycling project to test the effects of 'yo-yo' dieting. Because so many dieters have reported that losing weight becomes progressively more difficult after putting weight back on, they first studied this effect in rats.

Researchers overfed a group of twenty-one rats to make them put on weight. They then changed their diet to make them lose this weight. They repeated this several times so that the rats went through a series of weight loss and weight regain. The first time around the rats took twenty-one days of dieting to reach their normal weight and forty-five days to regain the lost weight. The second time around the rats took forty-six days to lose the same amount of weight, eating the same amount of food, and only

fourteen days to regain the weight. Prolonged dieting meant that weight became easier to regain and more difficult to lose.

A similar study was carried out at Harvard Medical School and it was found that the pattern was similar for dieting women. It seems that repeated weight loss causes the body to use up stored fat more efficiently, and to live off less food. Repeated dieting and weight regain put the body into 'starvation mode', the metabolic rate decreases, and even when the weight has been regained the body still expects further deprivation.

Further research suggests that 'yo-yo dieting' has even more disturbing consequences. Yo-yo dieters seem to lose their pounds as muscle and regain them as fat. Thus prolonged attempts at dieting increase the body's overall fat content. A study of 1170 men in Pennsylvania found that over a period of twenty-five years those who showed the greatest weight fluctuations had the highest risk of heart disease.

In the short term dieting may make you feel good. In the long term it can result in far more problems than it solves. If you don't lose any weight you will feel a failure, dieting will become a habit and a way of life, and you will experience all the psychological changes which seem to accompany attempts at losing weight. If you do manage to lose weight, unless you can keep it off for ever, further weight loss will be more difficult and the physical and psychological problems greater than the simple problem of seeing yourself as fatter than you would like to be.

Dieting causes overeating. Overeating causes weight gain. Weight gain causes dieting. In fact, dieting no longer seems to refer to eating less. What most people are doing when they 'diet' is a combination of eating less and eating more. They swing from times of restricting food to times of compensating for this restriction. Dieting means attempting to eat less, but not necessarily doing so. What all dieters have in common is a state of mind. They are thinking about eating less — that is all. Very few dieters actually manage to do this; most of them simply think about it. And this is why the dieting industry is so powerful. Dieters never finish dieting. Dieters never get to the stage when they can finish with the dieting industry. Because dieting means further dieting and therefore further use of the ever growing industry which supports it.

... andjoyohoxing