7 Obesity Myths Debunked


When it comes to weight loss, it's easy to succumb to fad diets and quick-fix weight loss solutions.

But it turns out that we've been unknowingly spreading weight loss myths for years. A group of researchers recently took it upon themselves to sort out weight loss facts from fiction and published these results in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. Even some of the seemingly bulletproof weight loss standardss -- like eating breakfast to help you lose weight -- were debunked. Get the truth on what it takes to have weight loss success:

The seven myths debunked:
  • Small, sustained changes in energy intake or expenditure will NOT cause large, long-term weight loss. For example, an obese person walking a mile a day will NOT in fact lose 50 pounds over the course of five years.
  • You do not have to set moderate, realistic goals – this is believed to be in flex. It’s probably just different for each person, but studies have also found that those that set extremely high goals, and lose a bunch of weight (some of which they gain back) are often still healthier/thinner than their more modest counterparts. You will not necessarily “quit” as a result of overly-ambitious goals.
  • Losing a large amount of weight quickly isn't always associated with poorer long-term weight than gradual weight loss. Sometimes fad diets are just what you need to jump-start your weight loss
  • You CAN succeed at a diet even if you’re not "mentally ready."
  • Physical education classes do not help prevent childhood obesity. Unfortunately the current gym classes are often too short and not intense enough to prevent poor eating habits.
  • Breast-feeding does NOT help you lose weight and prevent obesity.
  • Having sex does not burn 100-300 calories per session. It's more like 20-50 minutes.

Ideas that we’re on the fence about (a.k.a. not yet proven):

  • Healthy eating and exercise as a child may not mean healthy habits into adulthood.
  • Breakfast helps you prevent obesity. Two studies showed that an AM meal had no effect on weight.
  • Adding fruits and veggies to your diet may not help with weight loss or weight gain.
  • Fad diets increase death rates.
  • Those who snack gain weight and become overweight.
  • If you add recreational areas in a community i.e. parks, bike paths etc. people will be thinner

What we do know:

  • Your genetic history is important, but not necessarily your destiny.
  • Fitness and exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Weight loss programs that provide your meals (i.e. Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem etc.) see greater weight loss results
  • Some prescription drugs can contribute to weight loss and weight control.
  • In certain cases, weight loss surgery is appropriate and beneficial for lowering weight and the risk of diabetes and death


When it comes to science there’s two sides – there are the people that write the studies and those that intake the information. What’s relevant here are a couple of facts that you can’t read in any scientific study.

1. In science, it is important to prove what you’re saying.

Researchers are finding themselves covering their tracks because they have released some serious, life-altering information to the public that they may have needed to look into a little bit more.

2. Take it with a grain of salt.

Science is science, but you know your body well. What works for “the public” may not always work for you. Your workout, your diet – it’s like a pair of pants. Do what works and keeps you healthy (when considering health, be sure to include not just weight and body fat, but important factors as well such as blood pressure, cholesterol and heart health; you want your doctor’s blessing when it comes to your health strategy).

That said, listen to that little voice inside your head. There’s human error in all science and not everything that is “proven” always remains fact. Be cautious, be skeptical, and above all – put your health first.

3. No excuses.

Don’t be that person who looks for any old excuse to tap out. This game isn’t one that comes around often. You only have one body – treat it well. Don’t think “Oh, well, that’s not true so I don’t have to work out anymore.”

The best way to be healthy? Prevention. And the only way to prevent life-threatening disease is through proper diet and exercise. 

By: Jennifer Wolfe

For More on Obesity:

Quiz: Childhood Obesity

Could taxing soda really reduce the risk of obesity?

Q&A: Why are Americans so obese?

The Discovery Fit and Health team brings you the latest (and most interesting) health news as well as exclusive interviews, video clips, and other juicy tidbits from your favorite shows.








stay connected

our sites