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FOR RELEASE: February 1, 2002
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Keep Your New Year's Resolutions for Healthy Weight

Did you resolve to lose weight in 2002? Did that resolve weaken when tempted with your favorite high calorie, high fat food? Like many Americans, you may have unreal expectations when it comes to weight.

There is no doubt that Americans are facing an obesity epidemic. Currently, about 60 percent of adults are overweight and about 30 percent are obese. Obesity isn't only confined to adults. About one-third of Americans of all ages are overweight. Higher body weights mean higher than normal incidences of health problems like heart disease, stroke, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, high cholesterol, and gall bladder disease.

The problem is that many Americans focus on weight loss after the weight is gained. Instead, the concept of weight maintenance should be a lifelong goal. According to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), statistically, five percent achieve and maintain their desired weight loss long term.

Every year, huge numbers of fad diets circulate like wild fire, each one promising quick weight loss with little effort. The truth is that weight loss is relatively slow (about one to two pounds per week) and requires a long-term commitment to exercise and changes in eating behaviors; it cannot be accomplished over the course of a few days or weeks. The best approach is to make permanent lifestyle changes and then stay with them.

OSDH nutritionists are offering the following tips to help potential dieters choose a sound diet plan and increase their chances of being successful. 

Tips to Identify Fad or "Bad" Weight Loss Diets

  1. The diet promises fast weight loss in a short amount of time. Weight loss with these types of diets is mostly water.
  2. Food selections are limited to only a few foods or there are specific rituals to follow like eating only protein and fat at a meal.
  3. The diet relies on testimonials from celebrities as "proof" that the diet works or ties the diet to well-known cities, like the Beverly Hills diet.
  4. There isn't a plan for developing sound dietary practices. Dieters just follow the diet until the desired weight is lost, then go back to their former eating habits.
  5. You must buy certain products or supplements to make weight loss easier.
  6. The plan promotes certain magical fat-melting foods like grapefruit, ginseng or garlic.
  7. The plan is skeptical of the scientific community and perhaps even markets the diet as a medical breakthrough that the scientific community is withholding from the public.
  8. The plan is advertised in the back of a magazine, on the radio, or newspaper.

Tips to Identify Sound or "Good" Weight Loss Diets

  1. Food selection includes a wide variety of low-fat food choices and plenty of fluids (8 cups per day).
  2. The promise of weight loss should be slow, about one to two pounds per week.
  3. The plan should offer 1200 -1500 calories per day. Plans that offer less promote hunger and fatigue, are hard to stay with, and must be accompanied by fortified foods or a balanced vitamin and mineral supplement.
  4. The plan should contain common foods that the whole family can enjoy. There should be no need to cook a meal for the dieter and one for the rest of the family.
  5. The plan should fit into any social situation. Attending parties and eating at restaurants are an important part of daily living.
  6. The diet should encourage the development of good eating habits for weight maintenance after the weight is lost.
  7. The diet should encourage physical exercise. Healthy living includes diet, exercise, stress reduction, and proper rest.
  8. The plan should insist that the person see their doctor or health care provider before starting the diet.

Long-term changes in lifestyle are safe and effective treatments for obesity. A sound dietary plan can help committed individuals to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce their risk of chronic disease. For more information about nutritious diets, contact your local county health department.

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