Cut the Apple

Time to Ditch Diet Books?

Presto! by Penn JiletteWe have quite an appetite for diet books. But are they helping? Writing at Vox, Julia Belluz offers some good advice:

Vote with your dollars. Stop buying diet books.

Publishers feed us five million diet books every year. That amounts to roughly half of all health and fitness books. The formula is pretty simple:

  1. A Sciency Sounding Secret. Lately the most popular theme is scientific explanations of how sugar is toxic. Voilà! We have a flood of detox diets.
  2. Compelling Personal Stories. Gripping testimonials about lives transformed through a diet are essential.
  3. A Celebrity. A doctor will do. Best of all is a celebrity doctor – Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, or a gazillion other wannabees.
  4. Righteous Language. A successful diet book makes the reader feel morally superior for following the righteous path.

Penn Jillette is using the formula for a best-selling book that simultaneously mocks and sells weight loss magic.

Celebrity magicians aside, Belluz saves her harshest words for doctors who write diet books, saying that:

Despite their good intentions, they are complicit with the publishing industry in confusing science and obscuring hard truths about obesity to sell diet books. It’s one thing when actress Gwyneth Paltrow tells people to avoid “nightshade vegetables” on an elimination diet, and quite another when a highly trained and credentialed physician makes overhyped weight loss claims.

The notion that a thousand-mile journey begins with a single step is true enough. But the diet book industry depends on people forgetting that the first step in weight management is relatively easy. Any diet – even the Cookie Diet – will bring short term weight loss.

Finding a way to enjoy a healthier pattern of eating is the only thing that will work for the long term. For that insight, those of us who are living with obesity need more than the latest, hottest diet book. A registered dietitian with expertise in weight management can help. And because obesity is much more than a simple dietary problem, an obesity medicine physician might be essential to overcoming it.

It is indeed time to ditch the diet books.

Click here for more from Belluz and here for more from the Telegraph.

Cut the Apple, photograph © Piyushgiri Ravagar / flickr

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August 6, 2016

One Response to “Time to Ditch Diet Books?”

  1. August 06, 2016 at 10:55 am, Stephen Phillips said:

    Diet books go back about 150 years. William Banting, an undertaker, is credited with the first diet book. In 1863.he wrote, “Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public” By the way his diet was high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates, not very different from the Atkins Diet
    A veteran dieter once wrote this little poem:

    Buying all the diet book is my regret
    All I ever lost was money and self-respect

    I think most dieters would agree

    Stephen Phillips
    American Association of Bariatric Counselors