Numerous scientific studies show that small caloric changes have almost no long-term effect on weight. When we skip a cookie or exercise a little more, the body’s biological and behavioral adaptations kick in, significantly reducing the caloric benefits of our effort.
[B]odies don’t gain or lose weight indefinitely. Eventually, a cascade of biological changes kicks in to help the body maintain a new weight. As the JAMA article explains, a person who eats an extra cookie a day will gain some weight, but over time, an increasing proportion of the cookie’s calories also goes to taking care of the extra body weight. Eventually, the body adjusts and stops gaining weight, even if the person continues to eat the cookie.
Similar factors come into play when we skip the extra cookie. We may lose a little weight at first, but soon the body adjusts to the new weight and requires fewer calories.
Regrettably, however, the body is more resistant to weight loss than weight gain. Hormones and brain chemicals that regulate your unconscious drive to eat and how your body responds to exercise can make it even more difficult to lose the weight.
While small steps are unlikely to solve the nation’s obesity crisis, doctors say losing a little weight, eating more heart-healthy foods and increasing exercise can make a meaningful difference in overall health and risks for heart disease and diabetes.
“I’m not saying throw up your hands and forget about it,” Dr. Friedman said. “Instead of focusing on weight or appearance, focus on people’s health. There are things people can do to improve their health significantly that don’t require normalizing your weight.”
While this is certainly information I’ve read before, I know a lot of people haven’t encountered it at all. I’m glad this is getting wider play — even if it’s in an article that reiterates that fat people eat too much (funny how researchers find that fat people don’t eat all that differently from thin people) and assumes that obesity is a terrible epidemic ooga booga booga.