>>Eugene: NYT talks about dieting as a Control problem. That is, people get fat because they lose control of what and how much they eat. Although genetics play a role, the fact that we delegate food production and service to third parties (restaurants, fast foods, frozen foods,etc) indicates that an individual is plugged into various routine feeding processes. Just like with cattle feeding, the processes aim at over feeding, rather than under feeding. <<
Why is it so hard for people to lose weight?
What your body does is to sense the amount of energy it has available for emergencies and for daily use. The stored energy is the total amount of adipose tissue in your body. We now know that there are jillions of hormones that are always measuring the amount of fat you have. Your body guides you to eat more or less because of this sensing mechanism.
But if we have such a sensing mechanism, why are people fatter now than they used to be?
This wonderful sensing mechanism involves genetics and environmental factors, and it gets set early in life. It is not clear how much of the setting is done before birth and how much is done by food or other influences early in life. There are many possibilities, but we just don't know.
So for many people, something happened early in life to set their sensing mechanism to demand more fat on their bodies?
What would you tell someone who wanted to lose weight?
I would have them eat a lower-calorie diet. They should eat whatever they normally eat, but eat less. You must carefully measure this. Eat as little as you can get away with, and try to exercise more.
There is no magic diet, or even a moderately preferred diet?
No. Some diets are better or worse for medical reasons, but not for weight control. People come up with new diets all the time — like, why not eat pistachios at midnight when the moon is full? We have gone through so many of these diet possibilities. And yet people are always coming up to me with another one.