Obesity is a risk factor for numerous disorders that afflict the human race, so understanding how to maintain a healthy body weight is one of the most urgent issues facing society. By 2025, it is estimated that 18% of men and 21% of women will be obese worldwide.
In the US alone, 68.8% of people are already classified as overweight or obese. The UK, meanwhile, has one of the greatest problems in Western Europe – 67% of men, 57% of women and a quarter of children are overweight.
In order to lose and maintain a healthy weight, public health policy typically advises eating fewer calories – by reducing the calorie content of food items or reducing portion size, for example. We propose, however, that simply choosing food items with reduced calories is not necessarily the best way to maintain a low weight.
There are hundreds of diets that, for a period, reduce calorie intake and in this way decrease body weight. But the number of those who are dieting at any one time demonstrates that this is not a long-term solution. Every year in the UK, 65% of women and 44% of men try to reduce their weight, by, for example, decreasing fatty or sugary foods or eating smaller portions.
Surveys also estimate that a quarter of people are always trying to lose weight, or “yoyo dieting”. The constant dieting to lose weight, subsequent weight gain, and further weight loss are part of a cycle that repeats itself for these people. Losing weight is much easier than maintaining weight loss, yet for health reasons we need to retain the lower weight.