Feed on

Mann’s analysis on the studies of obesity and dieting prove that dieting really is not the solution to America’s obesity problem. According to the article, “in sum, there is little support for the notion that diets lead to lasting weight loss or health benefits.” This idea was shocking to me because I have always believed it was a common truth that dieting leads to weight loss.  While I understand Mann’s conclusions after analyzing these specific trials, I disagree with her that dieting (and exercise as she briefly mentions) is not the way to stop obesity. While I haven’t performed any trial studies, I personally think that dieting does help people lose weight in the long run, as long as the person has the right mentality and determination to lose the weight.

I think Mann underestimates the ability of people with passion, ambition, and support. She just says dieting is not the answer to solving obesity, yet she doesn’t provide any sort of solution herself; it seems as though she gives up on the issue because she disproves the generally accepted way to lose weight, then fails to provide any alternatives.

Mann does not take into consideration that these participants were under unnatural circumstances being test subjects in a study. While participants lost some weight in the study, many of them gained back the weight. I believe there are two reasons behind this that she does not consider. First, while participating in the study, these people received an immense amount of support to continue eating healthy. While off the study, these people suddenly lost all their potential “cheerleaders” and thus succumb to their weaknesses of overeating/eating unhealthy foods. Obesity, after all, is very much linked to having a certain mindset about food. Secondly, Mann also doesn’t consider that maybe those who participated in the study were not intrinsically motivated to lose the weight; maybe they were forced by Medicare, their doctor, or their spouse to participate in the study (especially since many dropped the case or did not follow up). So once off the study, these people lost the determination to lose weight. Maybe the reason participants didn’t maintain the lower weight in the long term is because they lost support after the study or lost determination after the study, which are both psychological aspects to losing weight that Mann did not consider.

While these studies show that dieting does not lead to weight loss, I do not think dieting should be completely disregarded from the importance of combating obesity. I think Mann should really consider the psychological effects of continuing an obese lifestyle and dieting before coming to such a shocking conclusion. As reality shows like The Biggest Loser demonstrate, dieting, exercise, and the right mindset really do have the power to transform someone’s life.

Questions for the class:

1. If dieting really isn’t the solution, what other suggestions do you have to decrease obesity in America? Are there any solutions to stopping obesity?

2.  What other factors could have contributed to the reasons why participants could not keep the weight off in the future?

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