Can’t Lose Weight? Maybe You’re Not Worried Enough About Its Impact on Your Health

Blame lack of discipline and misinformation

Overweight woman running outdoors in the city

If you can’t seem to shed those extra pounds, you’re not alone: 84 percent of Americans say they have tried at least one weight-loss method. Many have failed so many times they have given up trying.

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In our heart of hearts, most of us know those extra pounds are not good for our health. The vast majority of people in a Cleveland Clinic survey (88 percent) understood the connection between a healthy weight and a healthy heart, and 65 percent said they were worried about getting heart disease. Yet lack of discipline and misinformation makes it easy to ignore the impact of those extra pounds on risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer and other leading causes of death and disability.

Disciplined we are not

Only 43 percent of those surveyed have tried to make dietary changes to lose weight. Nearly 20 percent refuse to change their diet to lose weight, and 40 percent of those who are overweight or obese say they aren’t careful about the foods they eat. Nearly one-fifth (18 percent) believe what they eat has no effect on their heart.

Among those who have tried dieting, 30 percent stuck with it less than one month, and 13 percent quit in less than a week.

More than half tried to exercise more, but their effort didn’t last long. One-fourth said they dislike exercise too much to do it: 22 percent said they don’t have time.

All in all, nearly one-fifth said that failure to see immediate results prevented them from trying harder.

Ignorance can be dangerous

The survey also revealed that we don’t really understand the impact of obesity on heart disease.

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More than half (60 percent) of those surveyed were unaware that fat tissue releases harmful inflammatory substances. Even more (70 percent) didn’t know that obesity causes structural changes in the heart. Only 55 percent knew that abdominal fat is more dangerous than fat stored in the hips and thighs.

About as many did not know that fat increases the risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke. The vast majority (87 percent) was unaware that obesity increases the risk of developing many forms of cancer.

How to be successful

The good news is that it doesn’t take much weight loss to reap the benefits. “Losing only 5 percent of your weight is enough to improve your health. This puts a healthy heart easily within your reach,” says Steven Nissen, MD, Chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine.

How can you jump-start a successful weight-loss program?

Forget quick weight-loss schemes. They don’t work in the long run. You’ll need to change your eating habits.

He recommends telling your doctor you would like to lose weight.

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“With a frank discussion of your health and the help of a good dietitian, you can receive an individualized weight-loss plan that incorporates your favorite foods, establishes an appropriate exercise program and sets attainable, measureable goals,” he says.

When you take responsibility for your weight to heart, achieving weight loss is possible.

“Once you begin to shed those extra pounds, you’ll feel better and have a renewed sense of optimism that you are moving toward a healthier future,” he says.

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