Nutritionist Jane Clarke brings some common sense to the obesity debate
In my research for this blog, I come across a lot of articles these days about obesity and how we can overcome this growing (literally!) problem. But after perusing the main points in this Times Online story, I felt like the author nailed it.
The name of the journalist is Jane Clarke and she is the author of the BodyFoods series of books. Her op-ed piece entitled "You can't treat obesity with needles" should be prominently posted in every doctor's office in the United States because it gets down to the heart of the matter regarding how to treat obesity.
With news about the weight loss aide called leptin dominating the headlines this week in the world of weight loss and health, Clarke says it is time for a reality check.
She writes that people "fail to control their body weight, but hormone injections will not put an end to yo-yo dieting."
"From childhood we learn to regard food as a source of comfort, as a friend, as something to turn to, particularly when times are tough; but a lack of understanding of the long-term effects of overeating, coupled with a poor grasp of which foods are good for us, can lead to a lifetime of weight fluctuations and ill-health."
Amen, sister! This gets right to the heart of the obesity problem that exists -- namely that people by and large do not understand how eating too much of the wrong kinds of foods can and will cause them to gain weight and damage their health.
This was something I ignored for my entire life before I started livin' la vida low-carb. When you are overweight or obese, you just don't think about what you are eating. At least I didn't. There was no sense of urgency within me to steer me in the direction of proper food choices to get my weight under control and to improve my health. It wasn't even on the radar screen.
Now, thanks to the low-carb lifestyle, I almost instinctively know what I should eat and definitely know what I shouldn't eat. The best thing for me is that I am not saddened by the fact that I choose not to eat sugar, white flour, or starchy foods anymore. Rather, I am thrilled to know that I can reject these foods because I know they will put me right back over 400 pounds again. AND THAT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN! :)
Clarke said news about a new weight loss drug should be "treated with caution."
"Yes, it is heartening to hear that leptin may prevent the physiological response that encourages people to put weight back on. However, used on its own, this measure may prove to be useless. Any attempt to achieve healthy weight loss — and to keep the weight off — must be partnered with behavioral therapy to deal with the emotional issues at the heart of the problem. It is not enough to treat obesity with needles."
Oh, I love this woman! And once again she is right. While weight loss pills like leptin and this one are being lauded for their ability to help people control their appetite, they do nothing to help people make the lifestyle change in their eating habits.
The discipline of controlling the kinds of foods you eat is missing when you rely on a pill to do it for you. Once you stop taking the pill, then what? Back to your old habits and the obesity monster returns again. And if you do continue to take diet pills, you usually have to eat a low-calorie diet and exercise to make them work.
Heck, if you're gonna do that, what's the point in taking a pill?!
At the end of her article, Clarke said the issue of "overeating" will not be resolved with new research experiments with drugs, but it is something that people need to come to terms with for themselves to get in the right mindset about what they need to do.
"Weight gain and the failure to maintain weight loss need to be tackled in the mind before they can be solved with clinical trials."
Dang, I wish I'd written this article. She took the words right out of my mouth. I was talking with someone this week about my brother Kevin who is morbidly obese (weighing close to 600 pounds!) and on the verge of dying because of it unless he makes some lifestyle changes. This is exactly where HIS battle is -- in the mind!
Until people who are overweight or obese realize in their own mind that losing weight is something they need to do -- FOR LIFE! -- then nothing is going to change for them. You have to commit yourself to the lifestyle changes that will bring you the results you want. Nobody can do that for you, nor should they!
I've been in the painful position of allowing my weight to balloon up to an unhealthy level and it's no fun to be there. For someone with low self-esteem, the feelings of depression and discouragement can push them to their limit. While I never allowed my weight to interfere with my sense of worth as a person, I realized I was destroying my body with my eating habits. There was no doubt about it.
People ask me all the time what got me to finally lose the weight and keep it off this time. I tell them there was a series of events that led to it and I write about them in my book. While it hurt me having to go through that time in my life, I am certainly thankful for it because it got my mind on the right track and led me to become the skinny man I have become today.
You can e-mail Jane Clarke to thank her for speaking the truth about obesity at email@example.com.
12-05-05 UPDATE: My friend Connie Bennett also blogged about this story at her SUGAR SHOCK! blog today!