Weight Loss Lies to Avoid

Weight Loss Lies

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Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent worldwide every year advertising low fat diets, yet in Australia alone, 50 percent of the population is obese. ACA meets a man who is trying to tear down the low-fat dogma — he's claiming our obsession with no or low fat food has actually helped us pile on the pounds. 

Dr Robert Harris says that despite being a renowned sporting nation, only about 15 percent of Australians are in the correct weight range. 

The Queensland-based founder of Slim Forever — a revolutionary weight loss program — believes the last 30 years of dietary advice is all wrong. In fact, he advocates that what we thought was healthy is actually killing us. 

Common Weight Loss Lies Debated

"We have an epidemic of obesity and it's going to kill us. We have an epidemic of diabetes, a disease that was unheard of 100 years ago," he says. 

Even our most recognised dietician, nutritionist Rosemary Stanton agrees, in part. 

"Yes, I think people have been conned into thinking if it's light or low fat it's going to help them lose weight and it's not necessarily so … Where we've been conned is by people putting out products that are low in fat but very high in sugar and basically very high in calories," she says. 

This hot dietary debate was ignited by an article written by Jerry Taub in The New York Times. He claims it was bad science that gave us the now famous food pyramid where we were encouraged to eat larger amounts of highly refined carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice, and almost no fat or oils. 

What Do the Critics Say?

The critics say it created a mass delusion and it just snowballed. Indeed, the feeling that fat is bad is now entrenched in our collective psyche, according to endocrinologist, Professor Richard Gordon. 

"Cutting down on carbohydrate, allowing in some protein and fat … certainly in my experience with other patients over the years and more recently with patients that have seen Dr Harris, is that they feel much better; they are in fact losing weight happily and it appears to be very safe. Excessive carbohydrate has, in my view, been the villain," he says. 

Statistics indicate that while many low-fat diets achieve short-term success, 97 percent of dieters end up putting the weight back on and, in some cases, even more. The only reward, it would seem, is guilt and remorse. 

"People can't adhere to it and they don't feel well on it [low fat diets]," says Professor Gordon. 

The Slim Forever Program

The Slim Forever program, alternatively, encourages those seeking to lose weight to instead indulge in bacon and eggs for breakfast. And Dr Harris claims science supports him. 

"What they did was take the cereal and gave it to one group of rats and they ground up the box and added a bit of sugar, some raisins and a bit of milk and gave it to another group of rats and the ones who were eating the box were healthier than the ones eating cereal. So, if anyone at home has breakfast cereal, throw away the cereal and eat the box — you'll be better off," he says. 

Rosemary Stanton, however, does sound a note of warning. 

"Well, if a low carbohydrate diet cuts out whole grains and fruits and vegetables then it's likely to increase your risk of things like type two diabetes, high blood pressure and most importantly, bowel cancer," she says. 

But Dr Harris says Slim Forever is not really a diet, rather a more balanced eating program, and as you could say, the proof is in the pudding!

How to Avoid Weight Loss Lies?

There are many ways for you to help yourself in sidestepping many of the most common weight loss lies.  To start, remember that you can’t simply believe everything you hear from friends and family.  Moreover, reading memes and even real-sounding claims on social media doesn’t mean that you’re reading facts.

There are many places online that you can use to verify claims.  This is particularly easy when it comes to claims regarding studies, as most reputable medical and health research will have been published in a peer reviewed journal.  These journals may not share the whole study online without a paid subscription, but they will typically offer the abstract at the very least, which will include the study’s purpose, methods and conclusion.

If you are uncertain regarding whether you’re reading weight loss lies or truths, your next best step is to speak with a medical professional.  This may be as simple as talking to your local pharmacist, or it may involve an appointment with your doctor.  The best person to talk to will depend on the nature of the information and what you intend to do with it.