WEDNESDAY, Nov. 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Americans are more motivated to lose weight than ever before, with increasing numbers eating less, exercising, drinking water and trying out new diets.
And it’s all for naught.
Folks are heavier than ever despite all this effort, reports a new study.
The proportion of people who’ve tried to lose weight during the previous year increased to 42% in 2015-2016, up from 34% in 1999-2000, according to federal survey data.
At the same time, body mass index (BMI) and weight for the average American also increased:
Average BMI went up to 29.4 in 2015-2016, just under the obesity level at 30. In 1999-2000, average BMI was 28.
People tipped the scales at an average 184 pounds in 2015-2016, compared to 176 pounds in 1999-2000, according to the survey of about 48,000 adults. Ages ranged from 40 to 64.
“Where weight-loss efforts are increasing, we can expect a decreasing trend of obesity, but it is not decreasing,” said senior researcher Dr. Lu Qi, director of the Tulane University Obesity Research Center in New Orleans.
Why is this happening? It might be that people are trying to diet but aren’t pursuing it in an effective manner, Qi said.
For example, eating less is the most popular weight-loss strategy, with nearly one-third of people trying it, researchers found.
But people appear to be substituting fattening foods into their diet even as they cut back on the amount they eat, Qi said.
“People reported reducing their food intake, but when we analyzed the calorie intake, there’s no decreasing trend,” Qi said. “Even the people who report their food intake, they didn’t reduce their calorie intake, which is key to weight loss.”
However, other experts believe these numbers point to a fundamental flaw in the American strategy of weight loss.
“There’s one obvious conclusion we can draw — the way we have been told as a population to lose weight doesn’t work,” said Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the Obesity, Metabolism and Nutrition Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.