About 65 percent of Americans are overweight; half of those are obese. So, statistically speaking, chances are you could stand to lose a few pounds, and that is why obesity and the various schemes to fight it are a hot topic. In fact, dieting is a $40 billion-a-year industry. Many people have heard of the South Beach diet, the Atkins diet, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and most have not heard of the thousands of weight loss gimmicks you can find online by just typing in weight loss into a Google search.

This is because, when it comes to diets, everyone’s selling something, some more effectively than others. The one point on which experts seem to agree is that the low-fat craze of the 1990s kicked off the wave of obesity we are experiencing today. People saw “low fat” and assumed eat low fat and that means “don’t get fat”, and the food companies made billions of dollars “feeding” this fallacy.

What makes this mistake so tragic for all of the “chubbies” is that weight loss is no longer a look and feel issue, but a major inducer and promoter of disease and dysfunction. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers to just name a few. These obesity and weight related diseases are the end result of having excess fat on the body that scientists are just now learning is wrecking havoc on the body, and it’s ability to function, and in the process creating a $123 billion dollar price tag, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Obviously, the blame has to start with the American diet and the food supply chain. Food suppliers and the fast food chains have gotten really good at giving people more fatty refined foods and sweets — at a lower and lower price. So people are eating fewer fruits and vegetables. Fifty percent of all Americans don’t eat a piece of fruit a day. The best selling foods in America are light beer and chips. At any fast-food joint, for only 39 cents more you can have another 800 calories.

This wanton disregard in taking responsibility for what one eats, and the resulting health problems, is going to hit people where it hurts most – their pocket books. The predictions are that most insurance plans over the next few years will become high deductible only, which means every time you go to see your friendly physician you are going to have to pay out of pocket for the visit. Even worse, with the probability that huge cuts will affect Medicare coverage, and entitlement programs, people will have to pay for many of the benefits they take for granted today, once in retirement.

If people want better long-term health and a healthier appearance, they need to make wholesale changes — not small changes — in the foods they eat and how they take care of themselves. This is easier said than done, as people are woefully ignorant about food and what is good and bad. Furthermore, they need to significantly reduce the excess fat they are carrying on their body – not just weight reduction, but “honest fat loss”, and in the process ensuring they are protecting their muscle mass, which is their calorie burning engine, and in some ways their “fountain of youth”.

This is the crux of why America after 30 years of yo-yo diets is finding itself with 65% of the population overweight or obese. People have lost weight over the years using one fad diet after another, and in the process of losing weight have also lost muscle mass. Once off the diet, all the weight is put back on again, but now in the form of fat. Not only do they physically get bigger, as they go back to their original weight (as fat weighs less than muscle), but now they have to eat less to stay at their original weight (with a reduction in their calorie burning engine – their muscle mass), before they started the weight loss program.

For people to have sustainable weight loss success over time, 4 key issues need to be part of their weight loss program that include:

  1. Weight lost during the weight loss phase needs to be primarily fat loss with muscle mass being protected.
  2. The diet by which weight is lost should be one that involves eating normal foods and in the process educating the person on the “good, bad, and ugly” of food so that once off the diet people know what and how to eat so that they don’t go back to bad eating habits.
  3. Food allergens/sensitivities need to be pinpointed so that they are either eliminated from a diet or limited in how much is consumed, as one food allergen can result in water retention and chronic symptom patterns.
  4. The body’s nutrient needs across 14 conditions that may not allow for optimal cellular function, and essential for maintaining weight loss over time must be measured, and properly supported when necessary.

In this fashion all the major issues in why people are not able to maintain weight loss over time get addressed and the likelihood of people succeeding are significantly increased. The accomplishment of getting people to lose their excess fat, learning how to keep it off over time, and having food support health instead of destroying it, is the greatest gift of health people can give themselves.

However, if the desire to succeed, and the will to maintain that success is not there, then even “honest fat loss” will be of no use. What is sometimes needed to motivate people into action is getting them to understand the potential financial consequences of getting a catastrophic disease, and how much illness can negatively affect people’s relationships in bringing about disruption in family life, to the point of divorce and separation. So the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is more true today than ever, and people should take that advice seriously, or pay heavy consequences.