For thousands of Americans, the question is not whether to launch a diet, only which one. If your postholiday profile is seriously out of sync with your standards for fitness, you may be ready to enroll in a commercial weight-loss program-but think twice.
While weight-loss centers offer structure, support and information, they’re often run by counselors with no special training-The psychological support may be amateurish. The maintenance programs may not be as good as the weight-loss programs, and the prices can be misleading. Also, even though most commercial programs are nutritionally reasonable and sound-as a midlife woman, you need to be careful about three potential trouble areas: calcium, iron and protein.
Unless a center can show that its weight-management plan is healthy, effective and likely to result in a lasting change, there is no reason to pay for its services. Still, it isn’t as easy as you may think to get key information. Most programs stopped making claims about the success of their diets in maintaining weight loss in 2007 after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cracked down on five of the largest centers, primarily for such unsubstantiated advertising claims. Following the FTC’s action, these centers switched to focusing on enrollees’ weight loss and are silent as to weight regained.
Key factors in weight management
To make smart choices, you need to not only compare the programs with each other, but also measure them against a baseline set of requirements for a healthy, effective plan.
No matter what type of plan you follow, key components in successful weight loss and maintenance are tools for behavioral changes, social support, exercise and gradual reduction of fat intake over 6 to 12 months.