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 Weight Control: Is it really that complex? Page #2


Losing Weight: Is it really that complex? Page #1

Weight control and caloric intake: 

Weight control, regardless of genetic predisposition or other factors, still requires consuming fewer calories than you burn.  In fact, one weight control study found that "diet resistance" or the inability to lose weight even when reducing caloric intake, was probably explained by the fact that exercise was being over-reported and food intake was being underreported.  The participants in this study reported that they were only consuming 1200 calories per day but were unable to lose weight.  When comparisons were made between actual versus reported activities and food data, it was found that caloric intake was underestimated by 47% and energy output was overestimated by 51%.

Even small excesses in consumption of food will lead to obesity over a long period of time.  A person who merely overeats 25 extra calories a day will consume 9,125 excess calories over a yearís time, for a gain of 2 1/2 pounds (a pound of body fat is 3,500 calories).  If a 125 lb. person were to start this pattern at the age of 20 years old, by the age of 40 they would weigh 175 pounds. 


Weight control is much more complex than simply eating less.  Sometimes itís very difficult to understand why one person can eat much more than another person and not gain a pound.  Many factors come into play when studying weight control including metabolism and physical activity.  However, it always gets down to the fact that given metabolic circumstances, and activity levels, if individuals take in excess calories in relation to their individual weight control factors, they will store excess weight as body fat. 

Physical activity and weight control: 

Physical activities have a tremendous effect on weight control.  An athlete may burn as much as 3,000 additional calories a day, whereas a sedentary person may burn just a few hundred extra calories over their resting metabolism rate (RMR) while only going about their daily activities (such as performing household chores and working).  Exercise not only burns calories but develops lean muscle mass, and helps to raise RMR as muscles require more energy to be maintained.  A report by the Surgeon General found that 60% of Americans are not active on a regular basis and 25% are totally inactive.  This low activity level is probably the single most significant factor associated with the rising obesity rate in the United States. 

Behavioral and psychological issues associated with weight control: 

There are also psychological factors associated with weight control.  Some people say that they eat even when they're not hungry due to external cues.  Some experts believe that emotions and food are closely connected, with people frequently using food for a sense of comfort or to release tension.  Also, eating too quickly may lead to eating more calories than is actually necessary to satisfy your hunger.  Finally, an important  psychological trait associated with weight control is that attitudes toward physical activity also frequently become a habit.

Adapted from information from The Johns Hopkins Medical Guide to Health After 50

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic  MA Licensed Psychologist   Ph.D. Candidate  (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)

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