- Nearly half of all American women are on a diet at any given time. source
- Two-thirds of dieters regain the weight within one year and virtually all regain the weight within five years. source
- More than one out of three "normal dieters" develop pathological eating. One fourth of those will suffer from partial or full blown eating disorders. source
What compels us to diet in the face of such dismal statistics? I think it comes down to convenience! We live in a society in which we want everything done quickly, ...the least amount of effort and energy required or invested as possible, the better. We live in a short-cut world (which I think unfortunately leads to short-circuiting)! It's not just a weight issue, either- it's a convenience issue. It seems that the cultural majority favors convenience, no matter the cost. Convenience is not wrong, but when it comes with health dangers or potential risk, we are often willing to take the gamble because we simply want to see results. And because of the cultural ideal and unrealistic standard of beauty that is often tied to our body weight, we are willing to do whatever it takes to see quick results when it comes to weight loss.
While I'd like to say that maybe only some of us are buying into this mentality (hey, it's hard not to sometimes, it's all around us!), I have to believe it's the majority... otherwise, the diet industry would not be a booming business. I think we really need to become more savvy about the way that we are feeding into a billion dollar industry when we diet. We are being taken for a ride as consumers, and the industry is playing on our desires to fit the cultural ideal that they are busy perpetuating so that they can continue to profit. Would you believe that according to a recent healthcare market research report published in December 2010 (Global Weight Loss and Gain Market by MarketsandMarkets), the global weight loss revenue is expected to be worth 586.3 billion dollars by the year 2014?? Who is profiting? When such cash is being made, whose best interests are at hand? If diet products really worked, do you think the industry would gross as much money? Now that my friends is Food For Thought. (Check out an article here by Smart Money magazine entitled '10 Things the Weight Loss Industry Won't Say'--it's a pretty good article minus #7).
One last thing that I want to mention is that while the diet industry continues to grow, the number of people in our country that are obese continues to rise. What does all of this mean? Lots of things I'm sure, but one thing it means is that diets and diet products make false promises that seem appealing and effective.. but that don't deliver and can be harmful. It is such a conflict of values and interests that we are often unable to see how we are being impacted. If you are dieting, all I would ask you to do is think critically about what you are doing, and how your body might respond once you stop the extreme behavior (that is, if you are able to stop and haven't developed a more seriously eating pathology). Are your behaviors sustainable? Are they healthy? How are they impacting your body? (Stay tuned for a post on this).
My intention here is not to judge, but to encourage critical thinking. It is important that when we engage in certain behaviors that we are educated about these behaviors so that we can make the best possible and most effective decisions. While I'm sure the majority would disagree with me, dieting is the least effective decision you can make when it comes to food and maintaining a healthy weight. Eating when we are hungry, stopping when we are full, and eating a variety of foods in moderation is a much safer bet. This is not something that is always easy for many of us to do-- for a variety of reasons... If this is the case, perhaps this is what needs examination. I'd really love to hear your feedback about dieting, fad diets, etc. If you are on a diet and disagree with some of my thoughts, I would love to dialogue and hear your thoughts on this topic!