If you don’t know, now you know!

Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn

I was interested in the history and profitability of weight loss. I wondered how many hundreds of years ago did we first begin to understand we could manipulate our body weight. I wondered when did people start to think that weighing less was desirable? I was aware that many centuries ago it was preferable to weigh more. What a glorious period that would be for some who spend their life battling their bodies to keep off unwanted pounds! When did people care enough of losing weight to pay to do it?

I (of course) began with a Google search. It was hard to find much about weight loss history but Wikipedia had some information. The idea of creating a condition to result in a smaller body may have only started less than 300 years ago.

Wikipedia writes:

One of the first dietitians was the English doctor George Cheyne. He himself was tremendously overweight and would constantly eat large quantities of rich food and drink. He began a meatless diet, taking only milk and vegetables, and soon regained his health. He began publicly recommending his diet for everyone suffering from obesity. In 1724, he wrote An Essay of Health and Long Life, in which he advises exercise and fresh air and avoiding luxury foods.

In 1863 Dr. William Banting wrote a popular diet booklet that is still the foundation of many weight loss plans today. Dr. Banting placed emphasis on the avoidance of sugar, saccharine matter, starch, beer, milk and butter.

Although it’s not stated, I suspect both Drs. Cheyne and Banting sold their weight loss books and profited by the sale. I do know that in the years following the publication of their books, weight loss books became very profitable for their authors and publishing houses. Indeed, today, weight loss books are still best sellers and the credibility of the content and the author’s qualifications don’t seem to matter. If the book promises to reveal “breakthrough science” and guarantee easy, instant weight loss there’s a good chance it will go straight to the top of the non-fiction best selling lists.

Sadly millions of overweight people spend billions of dollars in hopes that they finally found the book that will reveal the dieting secret they have spent, if not a lifetime, perhaps most of their life seeking.

Fast-forward a few hundred years from Dr Cheyne’s original weight loss essay…

Weight loss is a big industry. There is a lot of money to be made just by promising weight loss. The actual promise need never made good. Too many people, especially women, are so desperate to lose weight they will throw good money after bad trying one, and then another, and then hundreds more weight loss books, potions, pills, machines, clubs, and even surgery in search of the elusive perfect weight loss magic.

I’d like to offer these 5 facts about weight loss absolutely free!

  1. Weight loss is possible for you. You can lose weight even if you claim to “have no metabolism.” If you are alive, you have a metabolism. It’s also possible to increase the calories your body burns at rest. Just because you can lose weight doesn’t make it a good idea. Some people think they need to lose weight because they are too critical, too unrealistic, or too caught up by media images of “perfection.”
  2. There is no such thing as starvation mode. There is no science to support the belief that eating too few calories will cause weight gain. Research suggests that a calorie deficit that’s too great may create a slower rate of weight loss, but you simply cannot gain weight by not eating enough. Not everybody will experience a slower rate of loss on a very low calorie diet, but all will shortchange themselves on good nutrition and health.
  3. You cannot spot reduce. Don’t believe the ads and suggested posts you see in your Facebook feed. Your belly fat will not go away because you stopped eating bananas or wheat! There are no special diets, or foods, or exercises that can create a weight loss in one, specific, targeted area. When you lose weight, your genes determine where the body fat will be reduced.
  4. Your rate of weight loss may be faster or slower than anybody else’s. There are lots of things that affect the rate of weight loss. Comparing your progress to others is self-defeating. How fast you lose weight is less important than how sustainable your weight loss will be.
  5. Maintaining weight loss is no easier or harder than losing weight. It takes the same effort and attention. You don’t just “get to goal and go back to doing things the way you used to do them” if you want weight loss to last.

Now that you know these 5 important facts do not spend any money on a weight loss service, plan or product that tries to convince you that anything contrary to these facts is true.

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.