June 5, 2014

Long Term Weight Loss Impossible (researchers say)

 This morning, as I was perusing the dailies on CBC.ca, my stomach flipped as I read the latest headline; "Obesity Research Confirms, Long Term Weight Loss Almost Impossible" (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/obesity-research-confirms-long-term-weight-loss-almost-impossible-1.2663585) .  Now, I have a keen understanding of the realistic challenges of long term weight loss and have blogged and talked about it for years now. But what disturbs me about this article is my gut is telling me they are reporting this research based upon years of studies looking at eating and exercise behaviour (leading to weight loss and gain overtime)....and that's it. 

Based upon what we (the global we) have seen so far, I believe this to be true. 95% of those on weight loss programs lose the weight...only to gain it back. It may take a year, it may take 10 years, but overtime...95% gain it back. Those lucky 5% are what is known as "outliers" (those that stand outside the bell curve...so to speak). If the word got out that 95% of us were not going to succeed in losing our fat, do you think many of us would throw up our hands and dive into that Doritos bag we hid in the back of the cupboard for emergencies such as this? I think so.

But I have questions....oh so many questions. My heart rate is elevated, my blood pressure is high,I should say maybe is...but I'm pretty damn sure of myself) a deeper issue than just exercise and eating healthy (or any behaviour change suggestion). Behaviour change is like pulling a weed from the base.  Unless you get to the root of the problem, the weight will come back. Make sense right?
So if the drive to eat and the eating
behaviour is the tree, could the
underlying motives be the roots?
Hells ya!
my hands are shaking I have so many questions. I don't believe we truly know the answer to the question, "can weight loss be long term?". I don't believe we have looked under the hood of this problem. To use a silly analogy, if you pull a weed from the base of the stem it will grow back...right? So you keep pulling it and pulling it but it never disappears - it always comes back. To rid yourself of that weed permanently, you have to take it from the roots.  Weight loss is the weed and the process to get there permanently is the root.

I would like to know if the researchers provided any long term therapy to their participants over time or offered psycho-education courses based upon Cognitive Behavioural Theory (change your beliefs and attitudes, change your thoughts, and this will lead to a change in behaviour). Perhaps Narrative therapy or Solution Focused...no? What about psychoanalytic or even EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)? Nothing? What about strategies based upon models of change or the leadership strategies of those involved in the studies (i.e. transformational leadership has more positive influence on change than any other leadership strategy)? I say, if you haven't tried this, you cannot say that weight loss is not a permanent thing. This is a great example of science focusing on one factor: the physical model of health.  Perhaps a shift towards the emotional may get to the root of the problem.  It's not about the food or the exercise...it's something deeper.

If research is saying that the only known "cure" for obesity is removing most of the stomach, then could we not assume it is the eating that leads to the obesity? If this is the case, couldn't we - if we found the root to the eating behaviour - change the end result?  I cannot, for the love of God and country,  figure out why we couldn't do this. It could be because this type of work would take too long and be costly to the recipient. It could also be as simple as...they just didn't think of that (and that's what I'm hoping for).

In conclusion I want to suggest that unless the researchers have taken into account all factors (and all processes, therapies, and strategies) for change, no one (not a PhD in research, a medical doctor, a "health coach", psychic, fitness leader, or lady next door selling Isogenix) can make the statement that weight loss is near to impossible to achieve (of course many of those people wouldn't as their livelihood would depend on you believe you could do it...I'm just sayin').

It's kinda like saying there is no other form of life in the universe or there is no life after death - because, quite frankly, we don't know for sure.

That's all I got.



  1. Thank you for sharing this article to us.This is quite interesting topic about weight loss.Great read!