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Weighing in on Weight Loss

By John J. Cote, MD June 15, 2009 Posted in: Wellness

If a new diet sounds too good to be true it probably is

We have all heard the old adage, "If it sounds too good to be true it probably is." This applies to all facets of life including in medicine. While we are making advances in all areas of medicine, people are expecting more and wanting results faster than ever before. Our "fast food" mentality is easily influenced by false promises of quick and easy results.

Weight loss is prime for the "snake oil" salesperson. Don't get me wrong, obesity is a huge problem in this country (no pun intended). A large majority of the diseases that cause our early demise (diabetes, heart attacks, strokes etc.) are increased or made more difficult to treat because of obesity. There are two main reasons for weight loss or gain: calories in and calories out. How many calories we take in is the "fuel" for our engines to burn. The calories we do not burn, we save in fat cells for the proverbial rainy day. The calories we burn are linked to our genetic make up. If you want to loose weight, then you have to either take in less or burn more (exercise and diet).

There are a plethora of diets (Atkins, Ornish, low glycemic index etc.) and each one may work. Every woman's body is different and may respond to one diet better than the next, but the key is: calories in and calories out. In studies, a physician observed Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) has been successful in helping people loose weight without surgery. Weight Watchers diets have been studied and have been shown to help women loose weight and keep it off. Which one should I choose? My response: any as long as you do it smart. Ask your Dr. and don't go for the quick fix.

There is no Quick Fix

We all want the quick fix. "I wish I could have a pill that would do it all." This is a fantasy! There are no magic bullets. Studies are being done now to look at obesity genes, but no medicine exists that can do it all. Many women are coming in requesting hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). This is a sham! There are multiple studies that show that hCG (oral, sublingual or shots) does not affect weight loss or well being (S Afr Med J. 1990 Feb 17;77(4):185-9., Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1995 Sep;40(3):237-43)

Body image, or more specifically a distorted body image is the opening that unscrupulous people need to push their products or ideas in the name of treating obesity. Buyers beware.

John J. Cote, MD
John J. Cote, MD

John J. Cote, MD, FACOG is an OB-GYN physician at CHI Health.

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