MN, M.D.:The Skinny On Obesity And Successful Weight Loss

March 18, 2013  |  

From your mother to your girlfriends, and even yourself, we all have our views on how to lose weight. But, has anyone actually stopped to see if these general views are true? Well, a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) exposed some of the common views and tested their truth. Researchers completed an internet search for popular weight loss tips and then searched research papers for evidence on how effective — or ineffective — the advice was. Here’s a breakdown of what they found.


  1. Engaging in sex can cause you to lose a good amount of calories. Wrong!  A study that looked into this found that an average man would only lose a total of 21 calories during a 6 minute sex session (FYI, it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound).  Although the amount of energy used during sex is a lot, the average amount of time people use to have sex is not.  As a result, the total amount of calories used is very small.  Maybe the next time you are in the mood, you can consider an hour-long continuous session?
  2. Those who win the weight loss “race” are those who stay slow and steady and not those who are fast. According to the NEJM article, there is NO truth in that. The research fact is this: those who stick to a “starvation diet” (AKA a very low calorie diet) will lose a lot more weight in the beginning compared to those who don’t.  However, when the study visited both groups in one year, they saw no difference in the total amount of weight loss.  Basically, it doesn’t matter if you do it rapidly or slowly.
  3.  Skipping breakfast or eating a snack can hurt your weight loss. I’m sure a lot of you have heard these myths.  Skipping breakfast or eating a snack will not stop your weight loss. The more important thing is what you are eating, not when you do eat.
  4. Setting realistic goals and motivation are key to success. Nope. Apparently these factors are not important when you are losing weight according to this article. I don’t know about this one because I personally think that if you start a diet/exercise program, there has to be some form of motivation tied to it. But I have also seen people lose weight even when their goals were or were not realistic.
  5. Those who were breastfed tend to be skinny. I think this seems more obvious.  Although breastfeeding has multiple benefits for a baby, being forever skinny is not one of them.


  1. Obesity can be in your genes, but it will only come to fruition in the right environment. Pretty much you are what you eat!  If you choose foods high in calories and fat, you are likely to be fat, especially if it is in your genes.  If you eat a well-balanced diet and stick to portion control, you can be skinny even if obesity is in your genes.
  2. Dieting is not the long term solution. Dieting can help you lose the weight.  However, if you go back to the same way of eating afterward, the weight will always come back.
  3. Exercise is the long term solution. One of the true keys to weight loss is tying exercise to your daily life for the rest of your life.
  4. There is more to exercise than losing weight. Exercise alone has been tied to a huge  improvement in high blood pressure and diabetes in some people. It is the best known secret for curing, if not preventing, many diseases, including some cancers.
  5.  For overweight kids, weight loss programs should involve everyone in the home. How are the kids going to lose weight if you don’t?

The bottom line is that in order to lose weight, there have to be multiple approaches which include: lower food intake (stick with only eating a certain amount of calories per day), exercising, and reducing the amount of sweets/fat.  Lastly, it is not just about dieting; it should be a lifestyle change.


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