Barriers To Losing Weight

For the first time in American history, there are more overweight than thin people. This "growing" trend unfortunately applies to children as well as adults. With the availability of weight programs, medicine and other technology, it's easy to believe the obesity puzzle should be solved. The country, however, is no better off than in 1958 when Dr. Albert Stunkard, renowned obesity researcher, concluded, "Most obese persons will not stay in treatment. Of those who stay in treatment, most will not lose weight; and, (of) those who do lose weight, most will regain it."

Obesity has been studied psychologically, genetically, socially, etc. - to no avail. A great deal has been learned about those who become overweight, various weight loss programs and theories, and the reasons for failure in dieting. The end result remains the same: we are an overweight, out-of-shape society!

For those with a weight problem there are numerous barriers to overcome. Both psychological and social issues arise - people are always surrounded by food. Food is an integral part of American society. From media exposure to "What restaurant do you want to go to?" - socializing with food is as American as apple pie (and, like this, there are also food clichés to haunt us.) Constant reminders of food are everywhere!

This becomes a real challenge during the holiday season when the average American gains nearly 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and the New Year. With high caloric holiday dinners, office parties, and constant entertaining, the unwanted pounds easily arrive.

If the holiday season ends with only a couple of extra pounds, other issues still remain in the obesity war. One is genetics. Some people are simply genetically predisposed to obesity - weight problems tend to run in families. Another is body appearance - most of us are not blessed with those long slender legs "to die for," the flat stomach, or the perfectly proportioned body.

Okay, your body type and genes are a given. What other issues exist? The work milieu is a test of "skillpower" (I don't believe in the concept "willpower." I promise to further examine this concept in future articles here at

At work, surrounded by candy dishes, donuts at the coffeepot, and the smell of microwave popcorn, determination not to cave-in is paramount.

At home, multimedia "feeds" temptation. Every other TV commercial is about "mouth watering," "delicious," and "fresh tasting" food. On the radio you hear about the "fresh new taste of . . . ." All the senses are bombarded.

Space doesn't allow other significant barriers to be addressed, such as:

    discrimination against the overweight, the obsession with thinness, and other social stigmas.

Until researchers discover why obesity exists, the best advice is to modify this lifestyle. Advice taken from a medical textbook written in 1872 called Hygienic Physiology is acutely applicable 125 years later:
"A sedentary occupation necessitates less food than out-door life. One not accustomed to manual labor should practice self-denial until his system becomes fitted to the new order of things . . . . You may stuff the stomach to the full, year after year, but as sure as effects follow causes, so sure will you reap the accumulating penalty."

Obesity continues to be a major problem in America, with no quick fixes or magic pills on the horizon. Food has become an obsession, and levels of exercise are reduced to moving fingers along keyboards, buttons, and switches. The bottom line: It's not easy being overweight!

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About The Author / Credits: Keith Levick, Ph.D., is a health psychologist who has been in practice for 20 years and is an Adjunct Professor at Central Michigan University. He is the founder and director of the Center for Childhood Weight Management, a unique treatment program designed for overweight children, located in Farmington Hills, MI, and in YMCA'S throughout Michigan. Dr. Levick is also the President of Goren and Associates, a training and development company. Some of their clients include GM, DaimlerChrysler, Detroit Diesel, AT&T and other Fortune 500 companies. Dr. Levick serves on the Executive Board for the American Heart Association and is well published in the area of health and wellness.

Dr. Levick is author of a new book entitled, Why Is My Child So Overweight? A Parent's Guide to a Fit & Healthy Child, designed to help the entire family become more aware of eating behaviors and help create lifestyle changes. This book is available through

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