The Science and Struggle of Overcoming Obesity

Nobody wants to be fat. But, for some obese individuals stuck in a “Fat Trap” weight loss failure is due to more than just a lack of discipline or laziness – it’s biological.

For those of us familiar with dieting, it’s not surprising to see lost weight show up on the scale a few months later and blame a lack of personal vigilance. But new research is suggesting that the biological state of the body after weight loss is to blame.

New research has found that even after losing incredible amounts of weight with medically-supervised diet plans and under the regular guidance of nutritionist, obese people are more prone to regain weight. A year out from the study, patients who had started with an average weight loss of 30 pounds had regained an average of 11 pounds. Even more interestingly, the patients reported feeling much hungrier and much more preoccupied with food than they did before losing weight.

This new fixation on food and feeling of hunger was due to altered hormone levels in their bodies. While the patients were by no means starving, the weight loss had triggered a starvation reflex, which led the body to frantically try to regain lost pounds. The weight loss had changed their metabolic state into a tailspin that didn’t exist before they tried to lose weight in the first place.

So, what do these results mean? Well, the study is small and not conclusive – so the research will have to be replicated to provide firm results. Still, the implications are eye-opening: many obese people will remain obese despite their best efforts to lose the weight. After losing weight, the body’s struggle to regain it may explain the high failure rate among patients struggling with obesity.

These findings, when taken with other research that shows how dieters experience stronger food cravings and a more emotional response to food, provide a fascinating glimpse into the mind of the dieter. Weight loss generates a greater emotional need for food, you are burning fewer calories in “starvation mode” and you have less impulse control. It’s no surprise we experience weight gain.

This doesn’t mean that you have to surrender your New Year’s resolution to lose the weight and keep it off; “it just means it’s really, really difficult.” If you have a history of struggling with your weight consider seeking professional, medical help in developing a weight loss program specifically tailored to meet your needs.

Overweight? Take a quick, online quiz to determine how much weight you should lose – and how to best do it!

Source: New York Times Magazine, “The Fat Trap”

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