Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Top ten things to know before joining a weight loss program

Yesterday the Canadian Medical Association Journal published an editorial I co-authored with my friend, colleague and fellow blogger Dr. Arya Sharma (here's his Obesity Notes blog).

The editorial very simply calls on both the medical establishment and governments to put an end to the shady practices that permeate the commercial weight loss industry.

I will likely post more thoughts on this tomorrow but for today I'd like to provide you with a top ten list. Ensure that all ten items are true for any program you're considering and if they're not, you might want to consider another program or at the very least, speak to your physician about it before enrolling.

  • The program is not a one-size-fits-all diet, and has individualized nutritional, exercise and behavioural components.
  • Nutritional advice is provided by a physician or a registered dietitian
  • Exercise is encouraged and physical activity is promoted at a gradual, rather than at an injury-inducing rapid pace
  • Reasonable weight loss goals are set encouraging at most a 3lb per week pace and the program does not promise, "guarantee" or imply dramatic, rapid, weight-loss as an outcome
  • The program does not require large sums of money at the start or make clients sign contracts for expensive, long-term programs without the option of at least partial refunds (which you should discuss with them before enrolling)
  • The program does not promote diets lower than 800 Calories daily and if less than 1200 daily are supervised by a physician.
  • The program does not require the use or purchase of any products, supplements, vitamins or injections
  • The program does not make outlandish claims such as, “you will only lose fat” or that they are able to, “target” problem areas.
  • The program has an established maintenance program optionally available
  • The program provides you with statistics that include the percentage of clients who drop out, the average percentage of weight loss and the average weight loss sustained following completion of their maintenance program.


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3 comments:

  1. I am so glad to see you and Dr. Sharma speaking out against this industry. As the pharmacy manager of a growing pharmacy, I'm confronted at least weekly, if not daily, with the conflict of selling these useless products. My company carries them, and patients are free to select them at will, but any time I have been asked by patients to recommend them, I tell them quite bluntly that there is no convincing evidence that any of them work, that some may even be dangerous, and that they'd be wasting their time and money by purchasing them. On the whole, patients appreciate this honesty, even if it means they will have to follow the 1-2lb/wk diet and exercise approach that I recommend to be successful! It's not the sexy quick-fix that everyone wants, but at least it's safe and effective!

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  2. Anonymous10:10 am

    I think this is a great checklist and makes perfect sense. These are the sins of the weight loss industry :)

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  3. Hi Yoni,

    I very much liked the Essay you did for CMAJ - had no idea you have such an interesting collection! I love medical history - sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't be a medical historian instead of a physiologist...

    Great job!

    Peter

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