In 2000, 116 MILLION people in the United States reported dieting to lose weight. That’s about 55% of the adult population. About 113 million of those people are destined to lose weight, then gain it all back plus some within 2 years.
The diet industry, which takes in approximately $50 BILLION of our money every year, has only a 2% success rate.
Let me say that again. Only TWO PERCENT of people who go on ANY diet will lose weight and keep it off for more than two years. That means that the other NINETY EIGHT PERCENT of us are destined to be trapped in the endless weight loss / weight gain / shame / weight loss / binge / depression cycle FOREVER.
Can you imagine any doctor prescribing you a medication that had only a 2% chance of working? Can you imagine any other industry surviving and continuing to sell its products with only a 2% rate of customer satisfaction? I certainly don’t.
But the diet industry gets away with this because they have tricked us. They have made us believe that when their faulty products don’t work, it’s OUR fault. After all, our friends, our family, our significant others, our co-workers and bosses, the media and even our doctors, are telling us every day that if we just diet hard enough, if we just have enough willpower and commitment, we WILL lose weight and we WILL keep it off. So we try one diet plan after another - high protein / low carb, low fat / high carb, calorie cycling, liquid fasts, single food diets (cabbage soup, grapefruit, or whatever happens to be in vogue at the time), ear stapling, stomach banding, intestine shortening, jaw wiring, hypnosis, calorie counting, points counting, fat gram counting, prescription diet pills, non-prescription diet pills, and on, and on, and on … - all in hopes that THIS time will be THE time that it finally works.
In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Losing Weight - An Ill-Fated New Year’s Resolution” (1998, 338:52-54), Jerome P. Kassirer, MD, and Marcia Angell, MD, state:
“There is a dark side to this national preoccupation (with diet and weight loss). Since many people cannot lose much weight no matter how hard they try, and promptly regain whatever they lose, the vast amounts of money spent on diet clubs, special foods and over-the-counter remedies, estimated to be on the order of $30 billion to $50 billion yearly, is wasted. More important, the failed attempts to lose weight often bring with them guilt and self-hatred. … To add injury to insult, the latest magical cures are neither magical nor harmless … until we have better data about the risks of being overweight and the benefits and risks of trying to lose weight, we should remember that the cure … may be worse than the condition.”
Pretty sobering, isn’t it? And plenty of other research bears this statement out. There is more and more evidence that diets pose an increased risk for weight gain, weight cycling and disease, eating disorders and depression. Even the newly popular “lifestyle change” diets, which are almost always the same old calorie-restricted diets masquerading as something new. You just don’t hear about it because telling people NOT to diet doesn’t sell diet books, diet programs, diet pills or other dieting products.