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Obesity and Weight Loss Myths Versus Reality

Obesity and Weight Loss Myths Versus Reality

Obesity and Weight Loss Myths versus Reality

Professor Jennifer Kuk

Grades 9 - 12
Professor Jennifer Kuk

Fit with Provincial Curriculum

Healthy Living - Healthy Eating (dieting, unhealthy eating behaviours, body image, healthy lifestyles)


With the increasing number of Canadians struggling with their body weight comes questions of why and how best to lose weight. Most attribute obesity and failed weight loss to poor diet, insufficient physical activity and a lack of will power. This is why individuals with obesity face discrimination and are often judged to be lazy, overindulgent and lack self-control. Weight discrimination is unfortunately all too common and appears to be the last socially accepted form of prejudice. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that obesity is caused by many factors that may not be in your control such as genes and where you live, and a host of other modern factors that may unfairly tip the scales causing certain people to gain weight. In fact, these factors are so ubiquitous that even lab rats with the same genetic make-up are observed to be heavier today than 20 years ago. The “obesegenic” (obesity causing) factors include common things such as medications, night time light exposure, pesticides, smoke and even central heating and air conditioning.

The oversimplification of what causes obesity, may have led to the oversimplification of how to lose weight, and societal prejudice against individuals with obesity. The prescription of “simply eat less and move more” fails in over 90% of people who try. Contrary to popular belief, dieting and exercise generally does not produce the desired magnitude of weight loss. Even obesity surgery does not return most individuals to a lean body weight. This is because the body is very proficient at resisting weight loss and will adapt to correct for situations of negative energy balance by being more energy thrifty. Thus, for most individuals obesity management is a difficult lifelong journey that requires the adoption of unnatural behaviour in our obesegenic modern society just to limit weight gain.