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Friday, August 25, 2006

U.S. Surgeon General Joins Forces with National Health Coalition to Promote Principles behind Healthy Weight Loss

New Campaign Educates the Public about How to Lose Weight Most Effectively

Washington, DC; October 18, 2005 -- At a time when an estimated 65 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese, a coalition of consumer, nutrition and public health groups has joined forces with the U.S. Surgeon General to drive home this important message: how you lose weight matters.

Because many overweight Americans have fallen prey to the come-ons of diet books and infomercials that promise a “revolutionary approach” to successful weight loss, the Partnership for Essential Nutrition has joined forces with Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., U.S. Surgeon General, to promote the basic principles associated with healthy and lasting weight loss.

These principles include making food choices that not only restrict calories but meet current scientific guidelines for nutritional completeness, engaging in regular physical activity, and adopting a comprehensive weight loss program that avoids extreme lifestyle changes since they are unlikely to be sustained over time.

At the same time, the Partnership for Essential Nutrition, which last year issued health warnings about following extreme low-carb diets, hopes to remind the public about the health risks associated with fad diets that greatly restrict the intake of specific foods and nutrients.

Based on an extensive body of scientific evidence, extreme diets can increase the risk for a number of life-threatening medical conditions and produce physical discomfort, such as severe constipation, gastrointestinal problems, nausea, repeated headaches, difficulty in concentrating and the loss of energy.

“If you are one of the many Americans who are overweight, shedding excess pounds will significantly improve your health, as long as you lose weight in a healthy way,” said Surgeon General Carmona. “The path to healthy weight loss includes setting realistic goals and following a comprehensive weight loss program that is sustainable – meaning the method must go beyond losing the excess weight and address ways to keep it off.”

To raise awareness about the importance of losing weight in a healthy way, Surgeon General Carmona appears in a new public service announcement that the Partnership for Essential Nutrition is distributing to stations nationwide.

In the spot, the Surgeon General tells Americans “how you diet is as important to your health as losing weight” and advises overweight individuals to “choose a weight loss program that will lead to long-term weight loss.” The :30 spot will begin appearing on stations in October.

Behind this public service advertising campaign is extensive scientific research showing that how one loses weight makes a difference in how much they lose and how successful they will be in keeping the weight off.

This includes the findings of a major report, Weighing the Options, issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which summarized the factors with proven links to weight loss success.

The factors include:

1) designing a diet program so it produces a weight loss of up to 2 pounds a week, the amount considered to be safe;
2) incorporating the current scientific recommendations for nutritional completeness into the menu plans;
3) encouraging “normal” eating patterns;
4) incorporating regular physical activity into the method of weight loss; and
5) developing programs that promote positive lifestyle change. In addition, experts in weight management stress the need for programs that are flexible enough so that people can apply the approaches that work best for them.

To promote these success factors, the Partnership has developed a healthy weight section on its web site – – with advice for how to lose weight in a healthy way. Based on information developed by government agencies and leading public health organizations, the recommendations include:

Stay away from diets that sound too good to be true – Any diet plan or product that claims you can lose weight without lowering the calories you take in and/or increasing your physical activity is selling fantasy and false hope.

Set realistic expectations at the start – According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), successful weight loss is typically losing about 10 percent of your body weight in six months.
Choose a comprehensive weight loss program that is sustainable – This means the method must go beyond losing the excess weight and address ways to keep it off.

Remember, it’s the calories that count – That’s why nutrition experts recommend choosing what are known as “lower-energy density foods” – meaning foods that are higher in water content and not very concentrated in calories.

Watch your portion size – If you practice portion control, it is possible to eat almost any type of food and still stay within a healthy range of calories for the day.

Be more physically active – For weight control, the new dietary guidelines recommend 60 minutes of activity on most days during the week, which can include walking, dancing, housework and golfing.

Create a Supportive Atmosphere – Don’t overlook the benefits of losing weight with other people. Research has shown that dieters who recruited friends or family members to help them had better results losing weight and keeping it off than dieters who had no buddy system to fall back on.

Formed in 2004 to promote programs, policies and research that will advance public understanding about the essentials of a nutritionally balanced diet, the 12 members of the Partnership for Essential Nutrition are: Alliance for Aging Research, American Association of Diabetes Educators, American Council on Science and Health, American Institute for Cancer Research, American Obesity Association, National Consumers League, National Women’s Health Resource Center, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Shape Up America!, Society for Women’s Health Research, University of California at Davis Department of Nutrition, and Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.

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