Social Question

josie's avatar

If you are significantly overweight, why doesn't the health risk motivate you to do something about it?

Asked by josie (22422 points ) July 29th, 2012

I am not talking about an extra 5 pounds here and there. It happens. I am talking about off the chart overweight.

The health risk, and/or the esthetic compromise either makes you uneasy, or it does not.

If not, why not?

If so, why are you not doing something about it?

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51 Answers

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Adirondackwannabe's avatar

It’s got to be so hard on your body to be that heavy. I’d freak. My BMI is 18 to 19. I could use some more pounds, but not if they go to my middle.

dumitus's avatar

I guess,
first it’s not that easy to reduce weight
second, many people give up on their bodies.

wonderingwhy's avatar

There are many reasons to be sure. Fresh in my mind from a prior discussion; at least part of the reason for some people is the perceived distance between a hardcore exercise regime (near term) and the health risks (long term). Even though people who fall into this category understand the risks they perceive them in a more abstract and distant way vs the very real strenuous effort necessary at present to lose the weight.

That is to say the possibility (perceived likelihood is another issue too) of developing diabetes or having a heart attack 10–30 years from now is not seen as a clear and present danger therefore not sufficient to motivate the real/tangible work needed today to avoid them.

It should also be said it the health risk does motivate many people who are morbidly obese to slim down. That doesn’t always mean they’ll go from 400 to 185 but even going from 400 to 300 has tangible benefits that shouldn’t be discounted or discouraged.

Kardamom's avatar

I don’t think that most morbidly obese people got that way because they just decided one day that they would be lazy and just sit around eating chips all day long.

Of course, over-eating certainly plays into obesity in a major way, but the eating itself is not the single cause of the obesity.

Some people become obese because they started out as fat children, most likely as an inherited trait, and then it just got worse from there.

Some people become obese because they have Medical Problems that cause them to gain weight and be un-able to lose it in the traditional methods that normal sized people can employ if they start to gain 10 or 50 lbs.

I would imagine that if one is carrying a lot of excess weight it would be very physically painful, if not impossible to exercise in a manner which could help with weight loss. An obese person can’t just go for a run or even a long walk, nor could they hop on a bike or participate in aerobics or weight lifting. For really obese people, simply getting up out of bed or up out of a chair is extremely difficult.

Then beyond that, if you’re in the US and you’re obese and you don’t have any health insurance, then you’re plumb out of luck.

Mix that with the fact that being obese in the US is considered to be very shameful, so a lot of obese people probably feel a lot of shame, and therefore depression. Depressed people have a much more difficult time being able to even attempt to take measures that could help them (not just fat people with depression, but people in general with depression have a difficult time trying to do things that can help)

Also, because of the shameful feelings, obese people may be so embarrassed to be seen in public that they become reclusive. Being stuck in your house makes it much more difficult to even attempt to go out and exercise or even to visit a doctor, because they might be too ashamed to have anyone look at them and make rude, ignorant comments to their face.

And some obese people may just be like the rest of us. Probably more men than women tend to avoid the doctor unless their wives nag them or make an appointment for them and drag them (this is true for fat people as well as people of normal weight). And most people, fat or not, love to eat, and some of us eat bad stuff. But regular weight people do not get lectured or ridiculed by eating bad junky food, but obese people do, and that must be horrible. And most people, fat or otherwise would probably rather sit around and watch TV than to go on a five mile hike. So I guess obese people are not that much different than the rest of us, except for the fact that they are fat.

josie's avatar

@Kardamom And they come up with better excuses? Is that what you are saying?

Kardamom's avatar

@josie No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m saying that I think you don’t realize how emotionally and physically difficult it is for someone in that condition to seek help. They have all of the other barriers that regular sized people have, but there are greater barriers that they have that I don’t think you can really understand (or sympathize with) unless you’ve been in that condition or have had people that you love in that condition.

I’ll give you one of my real life examples. My older cousin was born with cancer. This was back in the 50’s. She wasn’t expected to live beyond a year or 2, but back in those days they asked my aunt if she would be willing to let her daughter be involved in an experimental cancer treatment that would be given to a group of babies with cancer (I think there were about 15 children) because it was her only hope of survival.

Now it’s about 57 years or so later and my cousin (who was the only one that survived past her teen years) is still alive, but she is in ill health and is considered to be obese. The cancer treatment involved high doses of radiation which pretty much destroyed most of her spine. So as she grew into childhood, only part of her spine grew normally while the rest of it remained destroyed.

When she was 16 she had treatment that fused her spine together and she was in a body cast for a year. She was never expected to be able to walk again, but the surgery was done so that her spine could hold up her head and not allow her upper body to become paralyzed. She was a chubby toddler and became a pretty chubby teenager, even though she had a spine that was about the size of a 6 or 7 year old. After she came out of the cast, it was assumed that she would be confined to a wheel chair for the rest of her life, but she was determined to walk again and within a year, with the aid of physical therapy and a full body brace, and the help of her whole family (immediate and extended) she was able to walk, although one of her legs is completely paralyzed.

She went to school and even went to college, but she never thought she would be able to hold down a job due to her handicap. But she proved everybody wrong there too, she got in on the ground floor of a computer related field and thrived there for about 15 years. But she got a little bigger every year. And during all of those years, she tried all sorts of diets that didn’t work and was being seen by doctors who regularly who advised her to lose weight, although she could literally not do any type of exercise because of her particular disability.

Eventually she developed diabetes and started having trouble walking at all, and she had to go on some heavy duty pain killers (some of which have weight gain as a side effect) to deal with the residual cancer treament pain, in addition to the periphal nuerophathy caused by the diabetes, and she was forced to quit working at a job she loved.

So fast forward to today. It’s a miracle that she’s even alive, but she has a lot of medical problems and she is considerably overweight, but she still does everything she can to try to lose weight without injuring herself. She’s in a wheel chair now and she’s always in a lot of pain, and she has to take a lot of medications that make her quite groggy. Because she can’t work and do the things that she enjoys, because she’s never 100%, and because she feels ugly she also suffers from depression, even though she is one of the funniest and nicest people and most intelligent people I have ever known. She is the cousin who inspired me to get into photography (a class that she discovered in college and then wowed us all with her skills).

When she was a child, she had medical care through the hospital that performed the cancer treatment, but it was with the idea that if she ever took a job, she would forfeit that coverage. So she lost her coverage when she was in her 20’s and never had medical insurance at all during the time she worked, because she had a pre-existing condition.

Also during her 20’s, because of her physical condition and un-developed spinal column, it became necessary for her to have a hysterectomy, which put her into menopause at a very young age. Menopause, as you may know, also tends to cause weight gain, because of the hormonal fluctuations. She can’t take standard treament for menopause because of her other medical problems.

When she became a certain age, after she had to quit work, she was able to get medicaid. But medicaid can’t and won’t really do much for her obesity problem. She’s not a candidate for any of the by-pass surgeries, because they could kill her. So she just keeps on doing what she can, by dieting and eating small portions, but it doesn’t really help.

Yesterday, when we all gathered for a family re-union and the rest of us were gorging ourselves on pizza and soda (which is not my regular diet as you probably know), she had a small salad and un-sweetened tea. And while we were all sitting there making merry, I could tell that she was in a lot of pain, but she was simply happy to be with us all, and she got to meet a newborn neice and hang out with family members, who don’t judge her for being fat. But a couple of times, she did whisper to me that she felt so bad that she was so fat and I felt terrible, because there wasn’t anything to be done about it, except to love her and enjoy her company, which I did.

wundayatta's avatar

It is very difficult to lose weight. My psychiatrist said that the best treatment for overweightness (diet and exercise) works only seven percent of the time. This should tell you how difficult it is to lose weight. Our bodies are fighting us tooth and nail for every bit of protection against famine.

Thus, people can be highly motivated to lose weight, and the vast majority will not succeed. Even surgery is no panacea. It’s a matter of biology and the fact that we have no good treatment to help people lose weight.

One reason we have no good treatment is that the FDA is very reluctant to approve drugs that significant side effects, like Fen-Phen. They just approved something new a few weeks ago, but I’m not sure what it was. We’ll see how that goes.

JLeslie's avatar

I think at least half of people who are overwieght don’t think they are. Purely a made up stat by me, no data to support my assertion. When everyone around you is overwieght also, you start to see overweight as normal. You hear it all the time, statements like, “isn’t it great they used an average weight woman in that ad,” and the woman is clearly overweight. Average translates to normal, which translates to healthy to a lot of people.

For years heavy people would say on TV, my doctor tells me I am heathy. Finally there is a ush to communicate overweight is pretty much not healthy period.

It’s hard to lose weight though. Most of the time food is a source of comfort and enjoyment, especially for overweight people. Having to change what you eat, or eat less feels bad psychologically and physically a lot of the time. Like an addiction.

People do all sorts of things tha hurt their health, this is just one of the many. Even athletes who seem very healthy, sometimes they overdo and wind up with bone fractures, joint troubles, I always wonder why they are not more moderate in their behaviors. I am not talking about professional athetes, just the average Joe who goes for a run or lifts some weights. Some of them, in my opinion. Push themselves too hard and take unnecessary risks.

woodcutter's avatar

It is also a poor person’s affliction. The really crappy foods are affordable. If you have to feed several people then the crappy foods is what you get them.
It’s hard to find a play park that is being maintained for kids to play. They look all run down because money is tight. And do schools even have mandatory PE these days?
Then there is the lazy factor. Multi billion dollar corps that sell video games that encourage sitting on one’s ass for hours means no exercise unless you count WII games and I think I read that the benefits from playing those is very minimal.

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t know @josie Why do smokers continue to smoke? Why do sexually active people continue to have unprotected sex? Why do people continue to drive to fast or recklessly or drive drunk? Why do people get up on an unstable ladder, with a chainsaw, to cut a tree limb off and end up severing one of their arms, why do people drink themselves to death?

I await your answers. :-)

If you can make any sense of it have at it!

lillycoyote's avatar

There’s a certain amount of madness in it all, I will admit that. I smoke. I have smoked for over 40 years and have quit for significant periods of time but just can’t seem to quite for good, once and for all. Do you think I don’t know, that I don’t understand, that it’s probably going to kill me? Yes, I most certainly do know and understand that.

50% of smokers die from smoking related illnesses. There’s a fair number and variety of things that kill smokers so I won’t go into it all but those are pretty much the numbers: 50% of smokers will die from smoking related illnesses. Maybe that doesn’t sound all that bad; I have a 50/50 chance, but if boarded an airplane and the flight attendant told me that I had only a 50% chance of surviving the flight and making it to my destination I sure as hell wouldn’t get on that plane, no one would, yet I continue to smoke… go figure…what is that all about?
\

rooeytoo's avatar

I think people put it on a little bit at a time and then one day look up and holy cow they are bloody fat! Then they want it to come off overnight and if it doesn’t then all of the excuses come out. I don’t buy the poor people have to eat badly one because frozen veg and a chicken leg is a lot cheaper than a box of mac and cheese. The only really cheap food is noodles and if you throw a bag of frozen veg in with them you have a couple of meals. It just takes time. And it takes time to lose weight and it is hard. But I guarantee you (unless you have a real medical condition) cut out sugar, cut back on portion size and “Run Fat Bitch Run” and you will lose it slowly just like you gained it.

@lillycoyote – addiction and it’s not easy to kick but it is possible, find the 6 week course offered by the American Lung Association. The food thing is an addiction too, the pancreas becomes addicted to sugar and it’s all downhill from there.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote I think that has something to do with dying in the next hour, or dying sometime way out in the future.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I agree with @ Wundayatta, losing weight is tremendously difficult. And a great many people have disabilities (disabilities that are unrelated to the extra weight that has occurred since they became disabled) that do not allow them to do a lot of the physical things that are necessary in order to lose the extra weight.

wundayatta's avatar

@rooeytoo … cut out sugar, cut back on portion size and “Run Fat Bitch Run” and you will lose it slowly just like you gained it.

Very true, and about as useless a piece of advice as you can find. This advice would work if anyone could actually do it. Unfortunately, almost noone can do it.

So how do we interpret that? Are 93% of overweight humans lazy SOBs? Or is there something else going on here? If we are serious about dealing with the weight issues, we’ll say something else is going on. We’ll see if we can find ways to curb appetite and to stimulate the metabolism to burn more calories. Fen-Phen worked for weight loss. In a tiny number of people, it caused a thickening of arteries.

If you have a 50% chance of dying of complications of weight in thirty years vs a tenth of one percent chance of dying of a heart problem in one year, would that make it worth taking Fen-Phen? Unfortunately, you don’t have a choice. Not, perhaps, one of the FDA’s brighter decisions, but then, there was a lot of public outcry.

jca's avatar

As someone who just lost a significant amount of weight from weight loss surgery, I can tell you the problem is not one with a simple solution. It can be genetic, can be due to injury which makes it harder to exercise, can be due to medications the person takes that make them gain easier, keep weight on easier, make it harder for them to lose weight.

There were some articles in the NY Times recently about weight, weight loss and studies that have been done about how the body strives to keep weight on. Apparently, when obese people lose weight, it takes more energy for them to keep the weight off than it does for a thin person. I don’t have links but one is called The Fat Trap, and it’s from NY Times 1/½012. I can’t find the other one now but will try to find it by the end of the day.

My personal experience is that I have always been heavy, not huge, but heavy. As I got older, I got heavier and heavier. I lost a bunch of weight from a low-carb diet, and gained it all back (stats show that the majority of people who lose a significant amount of weight on their own -i.e. without surgery – will regain it). I also had a slow thyroid at the time, and wasn’t being treated for it because the doctor did not diagnose it. I also was in an auto accident where I broke my ankle and tore three ligaments and therefore, could not walk the track like I used to, and the weight went back on. I got where it was hard to get up from a chair, hard to go up steps, hard to step up onto a curb, hard to get out of the car. All things that thin people take for granted, it was hard to do. At the same time, I could and would eat a lot. Not huge amounts, but a lot. I liked dessert, ate dessert at least once a day. I found out when I went for weight loss surgery consultation that there’s a hormone produced in the stomach called Ghrelin, which makes you hungry. The larger the stomach, the more hungry you are. If I tried to eat the quantity given in a Weight Watcher’s meal or Lean Cuisine or something similar, I would feel starving and distracted by hunger. I had little will power and combined with the starving feeling, I was always wanting food. I got where I had little energy and wanted to lie down all the time. It was hard because I had a young child and had no energy. I could not go on rides at amusement parks and I had not been on a plane in years.

I had weight loss surgery in 2011 and have since lost over 100 lbs. I don’t feel starving all the time, I get fuller quicker and have more energy, so it’s all good. The amount I can eat is usually less than what my 5 year old could eat. I feel better about myself and I think I project a better, more confident image. I recently went on some amusement park rides for the first time in a bunch of years, and I look forward to more of the same and more traveling (I love plane rides).

@rooeytoo: “Run fat bitch run” is so offensive I can’t begin. I don’t understand why you would post something like that.

Paradox25's avatar

It depends on the person and their circumstances. Some people may not really care about themselves or their lives, and this outlook on their behalf may have well preceded their massive weight gain. With others, they may take it as a near impossible task to try to accomplish, trying to lose all of that weight. In all fairness some people seem to gain weight just by looking at food.

mangeons's avatar

It definitely depends on the situation. Of course, if someone has a condition that would hinder their weight loss in one way or another, that’s kind of unavoidable. A lot of them, as @Kardamom pointed out, are also self conscious or discouraged and don’t really know where to start. Others just don’t really care, and they see any health risks as future risks and not imminent danger, as @wonderingwhy said.

But on a side note, I see a lot of people referencing research that says that most people who lose weight on their own gain most of it back. While I don’t disagree with that statement, there is a reason why that happens. Yes, the body is reluctant to shedding weight. But why, then, are many people able to lose the weight but not keep it off? Because in all honesty, most people go about it the completely wrong way. Because they go on “diets”. They go on Weight Watches, or do cleanses, or cut out carbs/sugar/etc. or just eat really healthy and work out a lot until they lose all the weight that they want. Some people only pay attention to calories, and only eat really low calorie foods without real nutritional value in them. And then what do a lot of people do when they’re satisfied with their weight loss? Their “diet” is over. They go right back to their old habits. Once it’s over, they revert to their old diet and exercise (or lack thereof) routines. Of course they’re going to gain it back, that’s how they got to where they were in the first place!

In all fairness, it’s a lot more difficult for someone who isn’t naturally thin to keep the weight off. They have to be more diet and health conscious. That’s just how life is. There’s always gonna be those people you resent because they can eat all they want and be as lazy as they want and never put on a pound. But it’s not impossible to keep weight off, even if you’re not one of those people. It’s sometimes a lot of work and a lot of willpower, but it’s possible in many cases. Maintaining weight loss isn’t about dieting, it’s creating a lifestyle. It’s about eating healthy, nutrition packed foods (while still allowing yourself to indulge sometimes!) and fitting physical activity in whenever possible (not just when you feel like it). This is a daunting task for a lot of people, and many people just aren’t up to the challenge. They don’t have enough willpower, they don’t feel strongly enough about it, whatever the reason may be, that is a large cause of many people regaining the weight they lost. They can lose it, but they aren’t willing to make the lifestyle changes necessary to keep it off.

I’m definitely not saying that this is the reason in all cases where people can’t keep weight off, I just wanted to point out that this is a common problem.

jca's avatar

@mangeons: Read the article I quoted. It explains a lot. www.nytimes.com. The Fat Trap by Tara Parker Pope.

JLeslie's avatar

@Kardamom I just read your story about your cousin. I have complete empathy for people who have physical illnesses, metabolic disfunctions, or medications that contribute to their obesity. But, it is only a small minority of obese people who have that excuse. I don’t see how she really fits the basic Q the OP is asking. Most obese people eat too much and don’t move around enough. I realize it is hard to lose weight and change eating habits, I have empathy for the people who are accustomed to simply eating more. I eat much more than I did 20 years ago, I know why I am heavier now compared to then, and I too have trouble curbing the quantity back down, plus I am older now, have a whacky thyroid, and so all these things aside from just consuming more food add an extra few more pounds than if I were eating the same thing back when I was 20. But, it doesn’t account for an extra 50 pounds. Not that I am 50 pounds overweight, I am saying the average person who is 70 pounds overweight, can’t chalk 50 pounds up to thyroid and menopause.

Your cousin, a different story, but she is a rare case. I do think she probably eats more than you describe when she is alone, but I give her a total pass. I don’t judge people who are heavy, but I don’t understand when they think it is totally out of their control. Out of control because it is difficult, yes. Out of control because eating less and exercising won’t work, not true. An obese person will feel hungry and uncomfortable eating less, I don’t care what a diet says, for at least a few months the “dieter” will miss their old ways, old foods, old portion sizes. I think honestly it takes a few years to really permanently change eating habits. It’s just my opinion from people I know who kept weight of for years and years and those who don’t. I agree with @jca the stomach shrinking is a big part, and that happens rather quickly for most people who are only moderately overweight, but one or two big meals, and back to the drawing board.

wundayatta's avatar

Saying that many people keep weight off is not helpful and is misleading. We need to look at the percent of people who try to take off weight and see how many keep it off. My psychiatrist told me seven percent of people can do that. That’s negligible. It means that the vast majority of people are unable to lose and keep weight off using diet and exercise.

For people to keep harping on that solution when it doesn’t work for the vast majority of people is just cruel, although it probably comes from ignorance. Our bodies evolved to be extremely good at hording calories. It helps us survive famines. Our bodies protective mechanisms are all focused on keeping weight on.

If people are serious about dealing with this problem, we need to find other solutions. Diet and exercise DO NOT WORK for the vast majority. That’s because we can not keep on our diets forever without some additional help. I don’t think it makes sense to point at overweight people and say they lack willpower. That doesn’t help anyone gain willpower. Shame is another technique that doesn’t work.

A real solution comes from elsewhere. Surgery can help. We need other solutions, as well.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Are you talking to me? Because I agree with you. I may not have communicated that well in my answer.

mangeons's avatar

@jca That was a really informative and interesting article, I wasn’t aware of a lot of what was said in it. While I still think my explanation above is true in many cases (from what I’ve observed personally), I will say that I think the article does explain a lot in just as many cases, probably more.

I agree with a lot of what was said in the article as well. I think more resources should go into the prevention of initial weight gain, since a lot of the problems pointed out in the article were due to a large loss. If we focused more on giving kids healthy, balanced diets, they would be much less likely to become obese in the first place. While yes, there is often genetic predisposition, that doesn’t mean diet doesn’t play a huge part in it. Genetics aren’t helping you lose weight, but neither are the huge amounts of calories, fats, oils, and sugars in your diet. Childhood eating habits set the tone for eating habits all throughout life. A kid who eats nothing but sugar and fats and fried foods will likely carry those eating habits into their adult life, giving them a much higher risk of being obese.

I also think goals should be more focused on being healthy and fit rather than just losing weight. Many obese people are genetically predisposed to it, yes. But that doesn’t mean they can’t eat a healthy diet and try to stay in shape as much as possible. While it doesn’t have the same visible payoff as losing weight does, you’re still going to be much healthier if you eat a nutritional, balanced diet than if you eat junk food all the time. The same goes for naturally thin people. Some obese people eat unhealthily all they want because they think that even if they eat a good diet, it won’t make a difference. Some naturally thin people eat unhealthily because they don’t think it will affect them, since they stay thin. Being healthy and being obese aren’t mutually exclusive.

And oftentimes, making an effort to be healthy overall will lead to some weight loss on its own. In my own personal experience, back in January I decided to change my lifestyle. I was unhappy with both my weight and how unhealthy I was, and it’s much easier to change aspects of your life when you’re younger so I wanted to make a change before I let it get too out of hand. I started eating healthily and cutting way down on junk food, and I started engaging in physical activity most days a week. As a result, I’ve lost about 30 pounds in the last half a year, and even when I take several weeks off from my normal exercise regimen or slip a little with my eating habits, it doesn’t really affect my weight at all. While I’m not naturally larger/obese and my weight gain was mainly due to my unhealthy habits, I’m not naturally stick thin either. Weight loss and maintenance, in many cases, depends largely on the individual. I also wonder if it makes a difference whether the change is made during childhood/teenage years or adult years. I think everyone should make an effort to be healthy, no matter their size or condition. That doesn’t mean you have to cut out all junk food, or exercise like a maniac, but try to make healthier choices a majority of the time. Sometimes it will lead to weight loss and sometimes it won’t, but ever since I’ve started making more healthy choices I feel better physically and I feel better about myself mentally, and that’s true for almost anyone I’ve talked to who has made a change.

Anyone who has the time should read the article, it’s fairly long but both interesting and enlightening.

@wundayatta I wasn’t saying that anyone who can’t keep weight off is doing something wrong and should just try harder. I was just explaining that in my personal observations that what I said above was often, not always, the case. It’s different for everyone. For many people, diet and exercise does work and does make a difference. For many more people, it doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean that everyone who is capable shouldn’t make the effort to make healthier choices.

wundayatta's avatar

Sorry @JLeslie. I was talking to @mangeons.

@mangeons I will say it again. You are wrong. Diet and exercise do NOT work for MANY people. It only works, if I’m quoting my shrink correctly, for a mere, paltry seven out of one hundred people. By “work,” we mean take weight off and keep it off for a decade or more.

You can not look at your own experience or the experience of a few people you know, most of whom are likely teenagers, and make generalizations about the entire population. You may know many people who lost weight and kept it off for six month or a year, but that is not the same as the overall population, which does not have the same abilities as teenagers do in terms of changing body weight.

Also, six months is not a very long time. Keeping weight off for a decade is a long time, but what people really need is to be able to do it for life. It is not easy. In fact, it is so diffucult, very few people can do it. This is not to say people shouldn’t try. Rather, it is to say we need more help. People who can’t do it shouldn’t feel ashamed because they are the vast majority.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Just to defend @mangeons a little, they don’t lose and keep the weight off because they stop eating the lower calorie amount, they go back to their old ways.

wundayatta's avatar

@JLeslie exactly. It is very difficult to do the diet and exercise route for as long as necessary.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Ok, I was just making sure we are on the same page. I was afraid you were saying it is statistically unlikely because even when you do “everything right” you still don’t keep the weight off.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie and @wundayatta: I believe, if I remember right, the article linked by @mangeons, The Fat Trap, states that people who’ve lost a significant amount on their own regain regardless of what they eat and how much they exercise. That’s why I talked about the article and suggested people read it. For people who have been obese, it’s not just a simple “eat less and exercise more” solution.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I have seen studies showing people who have gained and lost many times actually have to eat somethng like 20% less than they otherwise normally would have if they had never been overweight to maintain a certain weight. It sucks, seems completely unfair the body works that way. But, still, it is a certain amount of calories and exercise to acheive and maintain a weight, whatever it is. People gain back weight, because they don’t stick to that “diet.”

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: In this article, they said these people spent all their free time exercising and it still wasn’t enough. You really have to read it to discuss it.

mangeons's avatar

@wundayatta Remember the several times I said that what I wrote was based on my observations and was not true for the whole population? I wasn’t even just basing them off of my own observations, I’ve talked to many people who’ve had the same observations as I have. I wasn’t making generalizations about the whole population. I also said ”Weight loss and maintenance, in many cases, depends largely on the individual.

I wasn’t just talking about teenagers, so maybe you shouldn’t make stupid assumptions based on my age. I even said, and I quote, ”I also wonder if it makes a difference whether the change is made during childhood/teenage years or adult years.” Therefore making the point that I wasn’t basing my whole response on teenagers and expecting those older than that to have the same results.

I also wasn’t saying that six months was a long time, I know it’s not (see above about not making stupid assumptions). I was simply saying that ”oftentimes, making an effort to be healthy overall will lead to some weight loss on its own” whether that’s even the intended purpose or not, and using my own experience as an example. (Note that I even said oftentimes, not always, or even almost always! Because I wasn’t making generalizations.) I never said it was “easy” (I’d like it if you could give me a specific part of my response where I said that losing weight and maintaining the loss was easy, please and thanks). I even said ”it’s a lot more difficult for someone who isn’t naturally thin to keep the weight off.” All I was saying was that in many cases it isn’t impossible!

And for another thing, I’m pretty sure we’re in agreement in the first place!

It is very difficult to do the diet and exercise route for as long as necessary.

That’s exactly what I said in my first response:

Maintaining weight loss isn’t about dieting, it’s creating a lifestyle. It’s about eating healthy, nutrition packed foods (while still allowing yourself to indulge sometimes!) and fitting physical activity in whenever possible (not just when you feel like it). This is a daunting task for a lot of people, and many people just aren’t up to the challenge.

So I don’t know what you just based your whole last reply to me off of, but it sounds like we’re on the same page to me. And I definitely don’t appreciate your condescension due to my age. Just because I’m sixteen doesn’t mean that I have no idea what I’m talking about, thank you very much. Did you even read the whole of my responses?

@jca Reading that article also gave me a new perspective on it, which I addressed in my second response. I believe that both things often have a role in weight loss in different circumstances (both my explanation in my first response and what is said in the article).

wundayatta's avatar

@mangeons I’ll take your word on it that we agree. Clearly I misunderstood you quite badly.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I did try to read it, but it isn’t coming up for me, the link didn’t take me to the article. I didn’t mean to ignore your article. I googled the author and found some interiews with her.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: @mangeons provided the link somewhere above.

mangeons's avatar

@JLeslie I linked directly to the article at the end of my second response, try that. @jca Only linked to the NY Times site, which also did not work for me.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, got it. Thanks. I’ll read it now.

JLeslie's avatar

How does the article counter what I have said?

I wish they told us how tall the participants are in the weight studies. They mention some being on 800 calorie diets. Nothing. I would be miserable admittedly in three days. I have friends who are small/short, and petite, have always been rather thin, and they eat very little. That’s the thing, most thin people eat less. When I was thin I ate less. Now I have probably screwed myself having gained weight the last ten years, because of the very things mentioned in the article, and what I have said above.

My grandma was right, I have quoted her on fluther a few times saying “do what you want to do while you can do it.” But, another quote of hers was “don’t gain weight, because it is hard to lose it.” she lost 20 pounds in her 40’s and kept them off the rest of her life. She said for the first couple of years she always left the table hungry. She grew up with having a little extra weight was a sign of wealth and beauty, so her mom kept her well fed as a young girl and young lady. Later she choice to lose weight preferring a slimmer figure and believing it was healthier.

mangeons's avatar

@JLeslie I was a bit surprised at 800 calories too, simply because it’s an unhealthily low amount so it wouldn’t even be safe or advisable to maintain that diet. Even I eat more than that, and I’m a small person.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: You and I have agreed mostly on this thread, but you did say at the end of one of these posts that they gained the weight because they “didn’t stick to that diet.” The link shows that people who do stick to certain diets (as you referenced right above) still gain it back.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I didn’t interpret the article as saying they maintained the calories. That was missing from the article as well I thought. It mentions near the beginning that the participants of the study, I think it was Australians, continues eating the foods they were supposed to, but it did not mention monitoring the calories. I see my dad do that, eat tons of healthy food and grow bigger and bigger. Also, a llittle cheat here and there during holidays and vacations, etc. The article mentioned the people who maintain their weight are very vigilant, no cheating on weekends, etc.

What sucks about it is “naturally” thin people don’t monitor much of anything. I remember Rosie O’donell once saying her girlfriend through her for a loop when they were first dating and Rosie offered her a cookie at one point, and her girlfriend said, “no thanks, I’m not hungry.” Rosie said she didn’t know cookies had anything to do with whether someone was hungy or not. I remember being like that, unable, literally unable to eat if I was not hungry. My neighbor who lost a lot of weight and instructs at weight watchers says people just don’t realize how many calories are in a cookie, or most anything for that matter.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: Page 1 and 2 they talk about the changes the body goes through with ghrelin making people hungry and page 5 they say “But their eating and exercise habits appear to reflect what researchers find in the lab: to lose weight and keep it off, a person must eat fewer calories and exercise fare more than a person who maintains the same weight naturally. Registry members exercise about an hour or more each day, the average weight loser puts in the equivalent of a four mile daily walk, seven days a week,” etc., ” they also appear to eat less than most people, with estimates ranging from 50 to 300 fewer daily calories.” Article quotes more – to quote it I would have to spend more time and I’m at work.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca I think that agrees with what I said about yo yo dieters needing to consume about 20% less than an always thin person to maintain the same weight. A comparison between people who have never been overweight and those who have. But, it doesn’t say the yo yo dieters need to continue to eat less and less and less to maintain a weight. I thought that is what you are trying to say? I might have misunderstood.

rooeytoo's avatar

@wundayatta – of course it is impossible to completely stop eating sugar but if you eliminate as much of it as you can including what is hidden in processed foods, wonder bread, soda etc. you will lose weight. I don’t know why you would take exception to that.

@jca – I thought that book was funny and inspirational.

And I did say “unless you have a real medical condition.”

jca's avatar

@rooeytoo: No matter who the statement is directed to, it’s still offensive, IMHO.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t mind in the least being called a bitch, it is much better than being called a “guy.” And if I am fat you can call me that too. I am short and people call me that all the time, I have no choice about being short, I can’t change it no matter what I do, and in this world it is a detriment. So should I be offended if someone calls me shorty, or short stuff, or vertically challenged??? I am made of stronger stuff than that, call me what you wish, if I don’t like it I will flip you the bird or laugh at you depending on my mood.

wundayatta's avatar

@rooeytoo I’m not taking exception to it. I am taking exception to the little “if” that everyone completely glosses over. IF you eliminate all the sugar and whatnot and keep on doing it for the rest of your life, you will lose weight and keep it off. The problem is that the IF is really quite large. Less than one in ten people can actually do this. So that’s not a solution that works for the vast majority of people. Or, it isn’t a solution.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta @rooeytoo I have read that something between 15–20% of drug and alcohol addicts recover. I am not sure how many years they need to be completely clean to qualify? Maybe you know some stats on the matter. This would be people who don’t use at all. Food, which has now been shown in scientific ways to be an addiction, the person cannot go completely clean, so it is understandable it is very hard to control. There is a Mexican scientist who has done a lot of research on the matter using brain scans to show which centers of the brain light up for food and for other addictions, basically the same. I can try to find info on her work if you are interested. I don’t remember her name, I only remember she is Russian, I think Jewish.

wundayatta's avatar

I have my doubts about the addiction model. People are throwing it at everything these days—food, sex, religion—everything. I don’t think that’s helpful. I think that when we call something an addiction, the implication is that we don’t need it, because it is just the pleasure we are going for. My guess is that will turn out not to be true.

I think that the things we get “addictions” over will turn out to be essential. Personally, I think it’s love that we are looking for—and that we need it for survival purposes. I’m sure the explanation will be pretty complex, and I couldn’t begin to sort out this intuition on this question.

But I believe love is important for our sense of selves and our sense of where we belong and that the “addictions” are what we use to substitute for love when we don’t have enough of the real thing around. If love is that important, and if sex, drugs and rock and roll (and food) somehow serve as chemical substitutes, then this may shed light on what we need to do to deal with behavior that is dysfunctional.

But I think food is different. Food is necessary in a very basic way, and evolution has prepared us to do whatever we can to build up an excess supply of calories that we carry around with us. If this is the case, we need to change our very basic body chemistry in order to accommodate a world where excess is the problem, not shortage. We need triggers to speed up our metabolisms and to burn more calories—perhaps on thought, if possible.

JLeslie's avatar

Interesting. I think love is probably part of the addiction equation also. Where I think it gets very complex regarding food is I think some people do eat because of the feeling of absence of love, aside from, or in addition to, our physiological need for fuel.

JLeslie's avatar

It took me a while but I found her. Nora Volkow. Here is an article..

Also, she did a 60 Minutes spot, but I am not sure the link will work.

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