Decoding Fact from Fiction About Obesity

Here’s a little game to play:

  • True of False: PE classes help prevent obesity and encourage weight loss
  • True or False: Losing too much weight too quickly is bad for your health
  • True of False: Breastfeeding helps prevent obesity later in life
  • True or False: Skipping breakfast will make you gain weight

If you answered “true” to any of the above, you, like the rest of us, have been fooled by myths and presumptions about obesity. Many “truths” that people believe are not supported by any scientific evidence, according to a paper published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers looked at seven myths about obesity and six presumptions and debunked them. Showing that they were either patently wrong (the myths) or not supported by evidence (the presumptions.) The paper then looked at nine facts, showing how they are true.

Here are some facts about obesity that are true:

  • Regardless of whether or not you lose weight, exercising helps improve your health
  • The right amount of physical activity helps keep weight off
  • For overweight children, programs that involve the family and home are more effective
  • Continuing to follow weight-loss strategies (like regularly eating low-fat foods) help keep the weight off

Bad information about obesity and about how it should be treated makes it a harder disease to fight. If doctors, nutritionists, parents and friends have bad information, it doesn’t help anyone.