Quaap home
Adventures of a stay-at-home, skeptical, homeschooling dad (etc.)


New law about weight loss plans

I propose a new law. This law would come into effect when a person began a weight loss plan. Consider it a consumer-protection law to curb false advertising.

No person may mention their new weight-loss plan for any reason in any format until said person has been on said weight-loss plan for a time period of no less than 18 months. Furthermore, the person must keep a daily record of how well the plan was adhered to.

Weight loss is simple, but not easy. Basically, if you reduce your calories below a certain level and increase your exercise, you'll almost certainly lose weight. That's simple and perfectly true. There are many things which can affect how much you have to reduce calories and how long you have to exercise, but it's still a simple formula.

But, as anyone who's tried to lose a significant amount of weight will tell you, it's not easy. It's actually really, really hard. Not many people who try to lose significant weight manage it, and even fewer maintain that weight loss for 2 years.

People will tell you they have the secret, the one plan to rule them all. Why, it's so simple: just never eat gluten! Just never eat more than 100g of carbohydrates! Just avoid meat and dairy! Just avoid any processed food! Just avoid any food that our "caveman" ancestors didn't have! Just eat whole foods! Simple!

And they're probably right: if you avoid they foods they say to avoid, you'll probably lose weight, most likely because you can no longer eat most of the convenient foods we consume too much of and so your calories are reduced. (Sure, there could be more going on in some of the diets, and that might help a little, but so far I've not seen any good reason to think one plan is vastly superior to another.)

These "revolutionary" diets are simple, and will probably work: many people on them will probably lose weight. Then, because the "simple" diet is so difficult or tedious to keep up (AKA hard), many of those will gain it back when they can't stick to the plan.

So, my new law would prohibit anyone from saying how great their diet is until they've been on it for at least 18 months, and kept a daily record showing how easy it was to adhere to. "You lost 20 pounds in the first month? Sounds neat." "Oh, you gained most of it back a year later because you were bored with eating only butter and fresh parsley? Bet you feel pretty silly telling everyone how easy it was."

Weight loss is simple, yes, but it's not easy.