Restrictive dieting does not work
In fact, it usually counterproductive. Dieting has been shown again and again to lead to additional weight gain over time and yo-yo weight can be especially strenuous on our bodies. And yet, pop culture persists with the idea that restrictive dieting is integral in health and weight loss.
For obese individuals that have tried, and failed, and tried, and failed to lose weight this way it can be detrimental to physical and mental health. We are told it should work, so when it doesn't we believe that it is somehow our fault.
Imagine your friend had cancer (example used because of the lack of stigma attached to cancer, not because obesity is comparable to cancer). The doctor told him that the best treatment option was a pill that had a 5-17% success rate (based on years of medical research) and that the other 87-95% of time it lead to extra cancer. Would he take it? Would you encourage it?
For many, the answer is yes. Ill health is a terrifying prospect. But imagine he took a year long intensive course, got "better" for a while, then it all came back plus more. Would he take it again? Would you encourage it again? What would the psychological impact be? Would he be receptive to people advising him to keep taking it in the unlikely event that it should work? Would you stand by while people abused him because the treatment wasn't effective for him? Or would you be kind, compassionate, and willing to show your support in any way you could?
If Diets Don't Work...What Now? - Dr Rick Kausman
Dieting Does Not Work, Researchers Report - Science Daily
How effective are traditional dietary and exercise interventions for weight loss? - Miller WC (PubMed)
Confronting the Failure of Behavioral and Dietary Treatments for Obesity - David Garner and Susan Wooler (Clinical Psychology Review)
The Fat Trap - Tara Parker-Pope (The New York Times)