Lose weight by eating less salt! - Go on! - Try it! - You will feel so much better!
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Woman's Hour: Why Diets Don't Work

The other day on Woman's Hour Jane Garvey was trying to obtain help for a listener who had written to the programme about being very fat and unable to lose weight, other than temporarily, by dieting. By clicking on "Chapter 3" on this page you can listen to the discussion.

"Diets don’t work – or do they? We’ve all known people who’ve had success losing pounds upon pounds following one diet or another. But what happens long term? Do they maintain their new weight for ever or do they slip back into old patterns, feeling out of control around food, putting the pounds back on, and starting yet another diet. Jane talks to a listener who has tried every diet under the sun and is still not happy with her weight. She is also joined by three people with radically different approaches to the question of dieting - Dr Susan Jebb Head of Diet and Population Health at the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research, Dr John Briffa, author of Escape the Diet Trap and Sue Thomason, a life coach specialising in body image and disordered eating."

The first adviser we heard from was Dr Susan Jebb. She spoke about how to stick to an eating plan and about utilising friends and family, and the importance of motivation and getting help from groups. But as Jane pointed out, her advice boiled down to going on a diet and joining groups, and the listener had tried all that many times and had no success. Jane was spot on there. This sort of advice won't help. We hear it all the time and it doesn't work. - If you keep on doing what you've done before, you can't expect to get different results, can you? I hadn't expected Dr Jebb's advice to be any use actually, because she is a member of the board of Change4Life, about which I have a very low opinion. - See my little blogpost.

The next adviser was Dr John Briffa, one of my faves because he gives advice that is based on proper scientific research and evidence, not opinion and dogma. He explained that generally diets don't work and he explained why they don't/can't work - because body mechanisms come into play and metabolism goes down when calories are restricted. He tried in a very short time to explain the significance of the hormone, insulin, and that to lose weight carbohydrates need to be restricted. He suggested basing diet on meat, fish, eggs, nuts, fruit, vegetables, and avoiding carbohydrates, and not going for a low fat intake.

The last adviser was Sue Thomason, a Life Coach. She said take the emphasis off losing weight. She talked quite a bit, but I couldn't make any sense of it, and I did listen pretty carefully. There was nothing practical there. I think I'd categorise her contribution as verbal garbage, and I'm not a fan of verbal garbage.

Frankly, Chapter 3 was altogether a bit too rushed, in my opinion. And unfortunately Sue, the listener who was wanting help to lose weight, didn't find any of the advice helpful. - Dr Briffa's advice would help her, I'm certain, but there was too little time for him properly to explain his points, and Sue firmly rejected the low carb idea, because she said the protein foods would be too expensive for her. - Well, there you go. - I don't honestly think it would cost her a lot more, and I'm sure any extra expense would be worth it...

Anyway, here's my twopenn'orth of advice for Sue: cut down on salt and salty food. It's not the only way to lose weight, but it's the fastest, the simplest, the cheapest and the safest. - It does work and it benefits your health in countless ways. I do hope she happens to read this and decides to have a go at cutting down on salt.