Most people who try a diet don't succeed in keeping weight off long-term and that is trumpeted as a huge failure of dieting by people who, wait for it, are often selling a competing diet.

The health truth is that even if you fail, you improved your health. Claims that people whose weight go up and down are dying earlier are just the same bad epidemiology that has journalists lamenting that International Agency for Research on Cancer activists claim pickle juice and aloe vera cause cancer.(1)

Most people do fail at diets but blaming the diet is like blaming the spoon for making them fat. Most people in all endeavors, from weight loss to relationships to business, either fail or reach a goal and then coast.(2) Dietitians may complain about the weight yo-yo but that is not science-based and they are often in the aspirational business - they want to sell you their book or meals or plan - and fail to mention that medically weight going up and down is still better for your health than weight going up and staying there. It's not helpful to subvert public health by noting how many people fail at diets. Only 2 percent of people may go from obese to fit but only 2 percent of people follow the USDA nutritional guidelines. Those are also aspirational. They are not the guidelines they should be, they are ideals. 

Credit: Shutterstock

That makes both useless for public health advocacy. Government panels on nutrition do more harm for the body confidence of people than Victoria's Secret models ever could.

It is also harmful for public health because if people are told only the 2% aspirational ideal will help, they won't try at all. What legitimate public health proponents, not epidemiologists hoping to get rich being trial lawyer expert witnesses or dietitians selling books, should be doing is encouraging more trying.  We don't tell people not to go for a walk if they can't run a 5K but dietitians selling their fitness fetish do just that to consumers about diets.

Instead of telling people who are heavy and perhaps self-conscious about it that they need to buy your book, buy your meal plan, join a gym, do 90 minutes of intense cardio per week, and commit to your diet for the rest of their lives, tell them to go for a 10-minute walk every other day. A whole lot of people will go for a brief walk because it is easily achievable. Then it becomes part of their routine. Ten minutes will become 45 and they will feel healthier and that will make them more confident and want more. They'll be more likely to cut back on food and burn more energy, the twin pillars of weight loss. 

I got a lovely Bowflex free of charge in my local Facebook Buy Nothing group, and then I got an elliptical machine and an ab machine at no cost, and I use those five days a week, mostly while watching the Pat McAfee Show on ESPN. It turns out that given my personality - I won't go to a grocery store without a sport coat - heading out for a walk every day is too much prep work, but going to my guest room and turning on a TV is no effort at all.

Should I write a book advocating that? Of course not, but that is the same kind of subjective advocacy far too many people hiding behind a title are doing to promote whatever they concocted based on their own bias - and maybe greed.


(1) The reason food epidemiology is often blatant garbage with a resulting direct link to mistrust of epidemiologists when it came to COVID-19 is that people may not overtly lie on food frequency questionnaires but they sure undercount, and yet food epidemiologists will write up those results and whatever supernatural health benefit or malady they picked as authoritative.

(2) Want to be a more successful futurist than just about everyone out there? Predict that nearly twice as many restaurants will fail as people on diets. You will be right, because 85% of restaurants do fail. That's not a reason for restaurateurs selling business services on Twitter to tell people to stop opening them.