For many menopausal women, weight gain is a major issue. Reduced metabolism means the scales are tipping — and not in our favor! And women aren’t alone in this; middle-aged men also suffer from the shrinking-pants syndrome.
Expanding middles are more than just unsightly. They can adversely affect your health, putting you at greater risk for heart disease, diabetes and other conditions.
So if you haven’t made a resolution yet to keep your weight in check, it’s not too late. Jan. 19-25 is Healthy Weight Week, celebrating healthy lifestyles that last a lifetime and prevent eating and weight problems. This annual celebration is a time for people of all sizes to live actively, eat well, and feel good about themselves.
Francie Berg, MS, chair of Healthy Weight Week, is a licensed nutritionist and adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine. In 1986 she created the Healthy Weight Network, which sponsors Healthy Weight Week.
As national coordinator of the Task Force on Weight Loss Abuse for the National Council Against Health Fraud, she maintains an extensive collection of quack products and bizarre gadgets that Americans are using in their strenuous efforts to lose weight.
On Tuesday of Healthy Weight Week, Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day is celebrated and the Slim Chance Awards are given for the worst diet products of the year. Last year, the Cotton Ball Diet (I’m not making this up!) received the dubious title of Most Outrageous Diet. On this plan, dieters dip cotton balls in juice and ingest them. The objective is to feel full without actually consuming real food. Risks include a blockage in the digestive system, which could result in surgery. I guess it would also give you an extreme case of cotton mouth!
Winning the award for Worst Gimmick was the Tongue Patch Diet. This is a reversible procedure in which a plastic mesh patch is fitted to the patient’s tongue. This makes chewing extremely painful, thus limiting the dieter to only liquid.
While these awards may be a bit tongue in cheek (pun intended), the concept of Healthy Weight Week is a serious one. Healthy Weight Network links research and practical application on weight and eating issues. Recognizing that weight is a complex condition of increasing concern throughout the world, Berg said the network is committed to bringing together scientific information from many sources and reporting controversial issues in a clear, objective manner. The network is further committed to exposing deception, reshaping detrimental social attitudes and promoting health at any size.
Following are a few of the guidelines Berg provides on how to detect weight-loss fraud:
- claims or implies a large, fast weight loss — often promised as easy, effortless, guaranteed or permanent (more than 2 pounds per week is a red flag)
- implies weight can be lost without restricting calories or exercising
- claims to get rid of “cellulite”
- promotes a medically unsupervised diet of less than 1000 calories per day
- requires special foods purchased from the company rather than conventional foods
- fails to state risks or recommend a medical exam
- claims ingredients will block digestion or surround calories, starches, carbohydrates or fats, and remove them from the body
- distributes through hard-sell mail order advertisements, television infomercials, or ads that list only a toll-free number without any address
- demands large advance payments or long-term contracts (payment should be pay-as-you-go, or refundable)
- displays prominent money-back guarantee
Berg has presented seminars at national and international conferences, and has been a guest on national television, including Oprah, Leeza and Inside Edition. Her books on weight and eating include Women Afraid to Eat, Children and Teens Afraid to Eat and Underage and Overweight: Our Childhood Obesity Crisis—What Every Family Needs to Know.
In short, if a weight-loss plan seems too good to be true, it probably is! Eating right and exercising is the tried-and-true method for maintaining a healthy weight. I’d love to write more about this, but I’ve got to go. It’s time for my daily workout!
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!