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Food For Thought: Americans Love To Diet, But Obesity Is Climbing. What Gives?

The Daily Tonic is a two to five minute read sharing science backed health news and tips, all while getting you to crack a smile or even lol on occasion.

According to a 2020 CDC report, about one-sixth of American adults claim to be on a special diet with the primary goal of losing weight. With obesity rates in the U.S at an all-time high, it is promising to hear that so many people are taking their health seriously and working towards a healthier body weight. 

The number of Americans on a diet has increased over the last decade. The CDC report found that 17% of Americans were on diets during the 2017-18 survey period, up from 14% a decade earlier. However, the U.S obesity rate rose from 34% to 42% during that same period. 

That doesn’t make any sense. How can we have more Americans dieting, yet obesity continues to rise? The obvious answer is that the diets people are following aren’t working. 

Healthy weight management and sustainable weight loss take consistency over long periods of time. Unfortunately, the diet culture over the past decade has been centered around quick fixes that usually provide short-term results but only make things worse long term. 

Instead of building nutritional habits that will stick, many dieting Americans have opted for 30-60 days of very restrictive eating that requires high levels of motivation and discipline that is nearly impossible to maintain. On day 31 of a 30-day diet, most people whiplash right back to old habits and regain all of the weight they lost, plus a little extra. This leads to frustration, and in some cases, it can even lead to more significant negative health outcomes like hormonal imbalances and nutrient deficiencies. 

The best diet is one you can stick with for life

How do you find a diet that actually works? A recent study showed that DIY dieting is not the way to go. In this study, participants were split into two groups. One group followed a commercially available weight management program, and the other group was given the freedom to come up with a DIY approach. 

At both the 3-month and 12-month check-in periods, the group following a commercially available weight management program saw more significant weight loss than the DIY group. 

The key takeaway? There are an endless number of dieting options available today. Keto, vegan, carnivore, Whole30, intermittent fasting, counting macros, low-carb, low-fat, paleo, etc. You could debate the pros and cons of each approach until the end of time, and you still wouldn’t be able to come to a consensus on the best diet for weight loss. 

The best diet for weight loss is the one you can most easily stay compliant with. For most people, that will require structure and accountability, which is why the DIY approach to dieting seems to fall flat. 

DIY that planter you saw in West Elm, but if you’ve been struggling to lose weight, don’t DIY your diet based on whatever juice cleanse your favorite influencer is selling. It might be best to work with a coach or follow a structured program to help you build sustainable habits that will benefit you in the long run.

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