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Fad Diet Popularity

A common question among weight loss professionals...

If fad diets don't work,
why are they so popular?

People are often willing to try anything that promises to help them lose weight because they want to look or feel better. Regardless of what professionals would like to think, dieters want one fit in the clothes they wore two years ago. It rarely has anything to do with improving health. Fad diets exploit this fact and drive a multi-million dollar industry.

Quick and easy weight loss appeals to all dieters. The quick fix of a fad diet draws the attention of dieters almost effortlessly, while professionals struggle to spread the word about weight loss through long-term changes in eating habits and regular exercise. What can we do?

We continue to educate the public on the real science of weight loss and dieting. The diet basics of healthy weight loss must continue to be supported and taught by physicians, nurses, nutritionists, and other health care providers.

The Diet Basics of Healthy Weight Loss

  • Lose weight by losing fat (which excludes all quick weight loss plans)

  • Gain Muscle (keep the resting metabolic rate from dropping)

  • Practice good eating habits (that can keep you thin)
  • Fad diets also become popular because many of them do work for a short time. In many cases, this is because when you stop eating certain types of food or eat "special" combinations of foods, you are getting fewer calories than you normally would. You are also paying more attention to what you are eating.

    However, it's likely that much of the weight you lose is from water and lean muscle, not body fat. Also, most people are not able to keep up with the demands of a diet that strictly limits their food choices or requires them to eat the same foods over and over again. People who use fad diets usually end up gaining back any weight that they lost.

    Here are some simple guidelines for recognizing a fad diet:

    • Diets that claim to help you lose weight very quickly (more than 1 or 2 pounds per week). Remember, it took time for you to gain unwanted weight and it will take time to lose it.
    • Promise that you can lose weight and keep it off without giving up "fatty" foods or exercising on a regular basis. If a diet plan or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
    • Base claims on "before and after" photos, instead of solid evidence from clinical trials.
    • Offer testimonials from clients or "experts" in weight loss, science or nutrition. Remember that these people are probably being paid to advertise the diet plan or product.

      If you want real testimonials, ask to read the reference page used when writing the diet.

    • Draw simple conclusions from complex medical research.
    • Limit your food choices and don't encourage you to get balanced nutrition by eating a variety of foods.
    • Require you to spend a lot of money on things like seminars, pills or prepackaged meals in order for the plan to work.
    Let's keep fighting for the truth...the diet basics of healthy weight loss. At some point, the truth will be heard...I hope it's not too late for some.

    Healthy Living!
    Michael A. Smith, M.D.
    The Weight Loss Professional

    Additional Information is available at Dr. Smith's Healthy Weight Loss page.

    Dr. Smith is the primary physician and consultant for the Weight Loss Professional Website. His interests include preventative medicine, the genetic etiology of obesity, and several others too numerous to list. Please visit his Website at and let him know what you think.


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