Selecting a Weight
Check It Out
Before You Sign Up For Any Weight Loss Program
Some people lose weight on their own; others like the support of a
structured program. Overweight people who are successful at losing weight, and
keeping it off, can reduce their risk factors for heart disease. If you decide
to join any kind of weight control program, here are some questions to ask
before you join.
- Does the program provide counseling to help you change your
eating activity, and personal habits?
The program should teach you how
to change permanently those eating habits and lifestyle factors, such as lack
of physical activity that have contributed to weight gain.
- Is the staff made up of a variety of qualified counselors
and health professionals such as nutritionists, registered dietitians, doctors,
nurses, psychologists, and exercise physiologists?
You need to be
evaluated by a physician if you have any health problems, are currently taking
any medicine, or plan on taking any medicine, or plan to lose more than 15 to
20 pounds. If your weight control plan uses a very low-calorie diet (a special
liquid formula that replaces all food for 1 to 4 months), an exam and follow up
visits by a doctor are also needed.
- Is training available on how to deal with times when you may
feel stressed and slip back to old habits?
The program should provide
long-term strategies to deal with weight problems you may have in the future.
These strategies might include things like setting up a support system and
establishing a physical activity routine.
- Is attention paid to keeping the weight off? How long is
Choose a program that teaches skills and techniques to make
permanent changes in eating habits and levels of physical activity to prevent
- Are food choices flexible and suitable? Are weight goals set
by the client and the health professional?
The program should consider
your food likes and dislikes and your lifestyle when your weight loss goals are
There are other questions you can ask
about how well a program works. Because many programs don't gather this
information, you may not get answers. But it's still important to ask them:
- What percentage of people complete the program?
- What is the average weight loss among people who
finish the program?
- What percentage of people have problems or side
effects? What are they?
- Are there fees or costs for additional items, such
as dietary supplements?
Remember, quick weight loss methods don't provide lasting
results. Weight loss methods that rely on diet aids like drinks, prepackaged
foods, or diet pills don't work in the long run. Whether you lose weight on
your own or with a group, remember that the most important changes are long
term. No matter how much weight you have to lose, modest goals and a slow
course will increase your chances of both losing the weight and keeping it
Methods for Voluntary Weight Loss and Control. National Institutes
of Health Technology Assessment Conference. Annals of Internal
Medicine.119(7, Part 2), October 1, 1993.
Choosing a Safe and Successful Weight-Loss Program,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National
Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive &
Kidney Diseases, NIH Publication No. 94-3700, December 1993.