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Oprah --  yes, THE Oprah -- recently made headline news with her $43 million dollar investment in the diet company Weight Watchers. She also announced that she is now actively participating in their famous “points” program. While I admire her for being so public with her weight struggles over the years, I started thinking about why some individuals spend half their lives trying to lose weight and keep it off, and others never count a calorie (or point or carb) in their entire life.
Thankfully, the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University has been wondering this same thing. In fact, they keep a Global Healthy Weight Registry of individuals who have been a normal weight their entire lives, to help provide insight as to what factors those “genetically blessed” people may actually be benefiting from. 

The lab recently released a report of lifestyle behaviors and habits 147 adult individuals commonly utilize in order to maintain their healthy weight. While not the largest group of individuals to make sweeping generalizations about, it seems the answer to maintaining a healthy weight, at least for these people,  is to perhaps stop trying so hard.

In this report, 96% of individuals ate breakfast, half weighed themselves weekly, and nearly half (42%) got regular exercise.  More impressively, nearly 75% said they never or rarely “diet”, yet almost all participants reported being mindful of their eating habits, listening to internal cues of hunger and opting for high-quality, non-processed foods.

The report goes on to suggest that maybe these popular diet programs are more of a problem than a solution. While not necessary flawed in their design, the over-restrictive structure and complexity make any long-term compliance extremely challenging in a “real world” setting -- which may be why the Oprahs of the world are still searching for a permanent weight-loss solution, decades after they began.

 


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