In just a few short weeks, millions of Americans will embark on their weight loss journey for the New Year. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of them will succeed. Statistics show that while nearly half of all Americans make some sort of resolution for the New Year, only 8 percent ever reach their goal. How can you become a success story instead of another statistic?
Healthy Weight Week is January 16-20. This annual public health and awareness campaign highlights the importance of healthy changes that can lead to long-term weight loss. While fad diets, weight loss gimmicks and miracle pills may seem tempting, these programs often fail to produce their promised results and they can take a serious toll on your body. Healthy Weight Week serves as a reminder that gradual, healthy weight loss is best.
Losing weight and keeping it off is a challenge many Americans face. According to Gary Foster, Ph.D., clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania, 65 percent of dieters return to their original pre-diet weight within three years. For individuals who lose weight rapidly, the outcome is even worse. Only five percent of people who lose weight through crash dieting manage to maintain their weight loss (Source: LIVESTRONG).
Evidence shows that individuals who lose an average of one to two pounds per week are more successful at keeping weight off. Weight loss at this rate allows your body and metabolism to adjust gradually, and it gives you time to adapt to healthier diet and exercise habits.
Even if your overall goal is to lose a significant amount of weight, you can start reaping significant health benefits long before you reach the finish line. Modest weight loss – even just 5 to 10 percent of your overall body weight – can lower your risk of several health complications and diseases, including high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, diabetes, and colon cancer.
A study published in the journal Cancer Research produced encouraging evidence that losing weight can significantly reduce cancer risk – particularly in postmenopausal women. The study involved 439 women between the ages of 50 and 75. All participants had a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher, which is classified as overweight or obese. Otherwise, the women were considered to be reasonably healthy, with no history of serious illness, smoking or heavy drinking.
Participants were divided into four groups. The first group was placed on a diet of 1,200 to 2,000 calories per day, with less than 30 percent of calories coming from fat. The second group was placed on an exercise regimen of 225 minutes per week, including at-home exercise and supervised workouts at the gym. The third group dieted and exercised. The fourth group served as a control group, with no changes to their diet or exercise habits.
At the conclusion of the year-long study, groups one and three lost an average of 8.5 percent and 10.8 percent of their overall body weight, respectively. These groups also showed a significant reduction in inflammatory indicators. C-reactive protein levels, which are associated with colon cancer and lung cancer when elevated, dropped 36.1 percent in group one and 41.7 percent in group three.
Cancer prevention researcher Kerri Winters-Stone, PhD, of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, said the study provides evidence of what comes from healthy behavioral changes. "Diet-induced weight loss is really central to reducing inflammation markers. And these were not extreme weight loss plans. The weight loss came from realistic plans that people can achieve over a year,” she explained (Source: WebMD).
Gradual weight loss may not sound as enticing as miracle diets and instant transformations, but the evidence speaks for itself. Let Healthy Weight Week inspire you to adopt healthy diet and lifestyle habits that will bring you closer to your goal. Small changes on a daily basis can have a significant impact on your health and overall body weight. Give it a chance and see what a difference one year can make!