Fad diets are everywhere. Turn on the TV – and there’s the latest super-pill ‘guaranteed’
to make you slim and sexy for just $39.95 (or so) per month. Log onto your computer
screen – and the popups offer dozens of products to ‘detoxify’ your life and shed
pounds miraculously. Glance at the magazines covers in the checkout line – and every
celebrity in America has a new diet plan to give you a perfect body just like theirs
(right!). Flip through those same magazine pages – and the (allegedly) before-and-after
photos promote quick answers to all your weight loss dreams.
“Americans spend more than $40 billion on weight loss every year,“ says Christine Emerson, MS, RD (registered dietitian) and president of the Montana Dietetic Association. “Sadly, many people waste their hard-earned dollars on fad diets, weight-loss gimmicks, and modern day snake oil. At best these products don’t work; in the worst case scenario, they can harm your health.”
There is no doubt that Montanans, young and old, are increasingly overweight. Recent surveys suggest that 57 percent of the state’s adults are overweight or obese. Programs in Billings and Missoula have documented that about one-third of preschool and elementary-aged children are already overweight or at risk of becoming so. These trends are certainly troubling, since being overweight can increase the risk of serious medical issues, like type 2 diabetes and joint problems.
However, the path to a healthy weight – for children and adults – is never a short-term diet. “The real solution is to make healthful eating and physical activity an everyday way of life,” says Emerson, who manages School Nutrition Programs for the Office of Public Instruction in Helena.“The key to success is to ignore all the misleading weight loss promotions – and focus on taking permanent steps toward a healthy lifestyle for your whole family.”
To celebrate National Nutrition Month®, Eat Right Montana (ERM) encourages families to go 100% Fad-Free and to focus on proven, science-based approaches to a healthy weight. These simple steps to real-life weight management have been the focus of ERM materials since 1999. All past and current issues of ERM’s monthly Healthy Families packets can be downloaded free from their updated web site at www.eatrightmontana.org/eatrighthealthyfamilies.htm
To evaluate a diet product, service, treatment or device, you can start with the following questions (adapted from The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, Wiley 2006). If your answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” it means that you should be suspicious.
The claims are likely too good to be true – and you should probably steer clear of the product.
***Does it use scare tactics or emotional appeals rather than proven results?
*** Does it use non-scientific terms like “revitalize,” “detoxify” or “balance your body with nature”?
*** Does it offer “proof” based on personal testimonials rather than sound science?
*** Does it claim to also “treat” or “cure” health problems, like cancer to sexual impotence?
*** Does it mention a “secret formula” or fail to list ingredients or possible side effects on the label?
For ways to avoid diet traps – and some tasty recipes, visit ADA online at www.eatright.org/nnm/
The programs of the MSU Extension Service are available to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Douglas Steele, Vice Provost and Director, Extension Service, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717.
Montana State University Extension Service is an ADA/EO/AA/Veteran's Preference Employer and educational outreach provider.