Dieting is so deeply ingrained in our culture that we have failed to notice three vital facts: 1) diets have been proven ineffective at sustained weight loss; 2) diets typically lead to weight gain; 3) diets often lead to disordered eating.
The reason diets are so ingrained in our culture is that the weight stigma, driven and nurtured by the $65 billion diet industry. Weight stigma tells us that we can and should lose weight. It tells us that people who are in larger bodies are less worthy, lazy, and responsible for their high body weight.
The diet industry spends billions of dollars in direct advertising campaigns and funds research to “prove” their claims. But no long-term, large-scale scientific research proves that intentional weight loss is effective. About 95% of people who intentionally lose weight regain the weight in 2-5 years, often plus more. They also have a slowed metabolism and any health gains observed during weight loss are eliminated.
If you have a child who has an eating disorder, think back. Do you remember how it started? There’s a good chance that your child started their eating disorder with a diet, often cloaked in the term “healthy lifestyle.” They started restricting calories and cut out food groups, and probably started exercising in pursuit of “health.” But where did that pursuit get them? It got them sick.
We would like to live in a world in which no children ever diet. Ever. We believe this will help reduce the rising rates of both obesity and eating disorders. Will you join us? Please check out this video we created to provide you with some more information about the dangers of dieting.
Ginny Jones is the editor of More-Love.org. She writes about parenting, body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders. Ginny is also a Parent Coach who helps parents handle their kids’ food and body issues.