DIETING is a national obsession which has led to many fads and myths.
Here, GAVANNDRA HODGE sifts through the most common misconceptions.
MYTH Eating late at night will pile on weight.
RECENT experiments at the Human Nutrition Research Centre in Cambridge revealed that people who ate their main meal at 8pm burned up exactly the same amount of calories as others who ate their main meal at lunchtime.
FACT Drinking before dinner stimulates appetite.
MOST diets suggest cutting out alcohol because of its high calorie content, but it is more insidious for the dieter than had been previously suspected.
Dutch researchers did tests on 40 men and women, which revealed that those who drank an alcoholic beverage 30 minutes before a meal ate quicker and consumed more calories.
MYTH People are overweight because they have slow metabolisms.
UNFORTUNATELY, a slow metabolism is no excuse for being overweight. In fact, recent studies revealed that fat people have faster metabolisms and burn off more energy than slimmer people simply to keep their bodies going.
There is not one case of an obese person with a significantly slow metabolism.
FACT Dieting dulls the mind.
STUDIES have shown there is a link between dieting and mental performance.
The reduction in working memory capacity occurs because slimmers' brains are so preoccupied with dieting that other brain processes don't get a look in.
MYTH Obesity is genetic.
ONLY 1pc of obese people can blame their parents. The obesity epidemic is down to sedentary lifestyles with energy-rich and fat-laden diets FACT Breakfast is the most important meal and eating it can help lose weight.
THE body's internal chemistry is at its most active first thing in the morning, so anything eaten then will be used to the maximum.
MYTH Yoghurt is the perfect diet food.
MANY dieters swear by it, but
some yoghurt can be as fattening as ice cream. Greek yoghurt has 10pc fat.
FACT An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
PEOPLE who eat temperate fruits (such as apples) as opposed to tropical fruits have less of a chance of getting heart disease. Apples are part of the carbohydrate group which has a low gly-caemic index and, therefore, only slightly raise blood-sugar levels.
MYTH Calories from fat make you fatter than calories from carbohydrates.
IT MAKES no difference whether excess calories are from fat such as butter or a carbohydrate like bread, both will make you fatter.
FACT People who diet live longer A LOW-CALORIE yet nutritionally balanced diet has been shown to dramatically slow down the ageing process.
The Biosphere 2 experiment in Arizona kept eight people to a diet of 1,800 calories a day, with nutrients and vitamins carefully regulated. After two years the guinea pigs had increased their life span by as much as 50pc in some cases.
MYTH Exercise makes you eat more.
OFTEN people shy away from doing exercise using this excuse. …