Magazine article USA TODAY

Dieting Is Fruitless

Magazine article USA TODAY

Dieting Is Fruitless

Article excerpt

For most people, dieting in an effort to lose weight is almost as fruitless as trying to hold your breath to stop breathing. "We can do both for a [while] but in the long run, biology wins out over willpower every time," indicates R. Paul Abernathy, professor of foods and nutrition, Purdue University. Despite the difficulty of dieting, though, he maintains it is possible to lose some weight by eating healthier.

Abernathy points out that 95% of those whose lose weight regain it within a year. "That's because they have a biological set point for their caloric intake that can't be denied for long. The only reason the other five percent were successful is that they changed their body's conditions, either through lifelong regular exercise or changing the types of foods that they ate. They weren't able to restrict food intake."

In addition to the problems of physiology, behavior plays a role as well, with the result that people won't endure something for long they don't enjoy, such as dieting or boring exercise. Illustrating the point, Abernathy has a sign on his office door that reads: "Willpower only lasts 10 days and is soluble in alcohol."

There still are things a person can do to trim a few pounds, he suggests. …

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