With over two-thirds of adults in the U.S. overweight or obese, losing weight is a hot topic. There’s a lot of money to be made from selling books about the latest diet craze or inventing a better tasting low-calorie snack food that people can gorge themselves on. In spite of what the media portrays, a new study shows that Americans are not actually that helpless when it comes to slimming down. By looking at data from 4,021 obese people over 20 years of age, researchers found that 63 percent of them were trying to lose weight. Of those, 40 percent lost at least five percent of their body weight. Another 20 percent lost even more—at least 10 percent of their body weight. Clinical guidelines suggest that obese people lose at least 10 percent of their body weight to see significant health benefits. Other studies, however, show that even a five percent loss can help. With all those people losing weight, what are the secrets to their success? Well, it’s not fad diets. Or nonprescription diet pills. Or even special “diet” foods. People who jumped on those bandwagons still had trouble shedding the pounds. The method that really worked is what many have been saying for years—exercise more and eat less food and fat. Prescription diet pills were also effective, but only a small percentage of the participants used them. People who lost the most weight—more than 10 percent—were more likely to use commercial weight loss programs, which combine healthy living and personal accountability. These people also avoided low-fat and low-calorie products targeted toward people struggling with their weight. So forget about the 30-day juice cleanses and convenience store diet pills. Real weight loss for most people comes down to two things: eating right and exercising.
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