Myth 1. Being overweight is unhealthy
This is nonsense. Being overweight may be unfashionable but it`s not necessarily unhealthy.
The truth: Being overweight is not unhealthy, indeed there is evidence that people who are up to 15 pounds overweight actually live longer than those of normal weight. It is only when we become seriously overweight or "obese" (i.e. more than 30 pounds overweight) that our health begins to suffer. Another important factor is where we carry our excess weight. For example, an obese man who carries his excess weight around his middle is more vulnerable to disease than an obese man whose excess weight is distributed more widely.
Myth 2. Dieting doesn`t work
This is probably the biggest myth of all. Losing weight is a very scientific matter. If we eat fewer calories than we use, our body takes some of our stored fat and converts it into energy. Result? We lose weight.
The truth: Any diet whose eating plan provides us with fewer calories than we need, is guaranteed to help us lose weight. However, whether we follow it is another matter.
Myth 3. Losing weight means eating less
We are all brainwashed into thinking that losing weight or dieting means eating less. But it"s not true. Why not? Because some foods contain a lot more calories than others. For example, one small pastry can be higher in calories than a whole plateful of chicken, potatoes and vegetables.
The truth: Losing weight means eating fewer calories than we need. However, by choosing foods which are low in calories we can lose weight without eating less. In fact, sometimes we can actually eat more.
Myth 4. Some diets can help us lose weight from specific parts of our body
This is absolute nonsense.
The truth: When we start a weight loss plan by eating fewer calories than we need, our body burns fat from all available fat stores, not just from particular parts. We cannot control this process. If a diet claims to help you lose weight from (e.g.) your thighs only, don"t believe it!
Myth 5. Some people are fat even though they eat next to nothing
It`s true that we may gain weight even though we don`t seem to eat very much. Why? Because each of us uses up calories at a slightly different rate. Also, certain foods are very calorie-dense. So even though we eat like a sparrow, we can still weigh like a hippo! Also, many studies suggest that when we are overweight we tend to underestimate our food intake.
The truth: Unless we have a specific medical condition, the reason we become overweight is because we are eating more calories than we use. The unused calories are then stored as fat.
Myth 6. Certain foods, or combinations-of-food can help us burn fat
Many diets claim that certain foods (e.g. pineapple, grapefruit etc.), or food combinations (e.g. beetroot & ice-cream etc.) have a magic fat-burning ingredient. Other experts promote fat-burning diets.
The truth: There are no magical fat-burning foods or diets.
Myth 7. People are overweight because they don`t exercise
It`s certainly true that lack of exercise is a contributory factor to a general rise in weight. However, in view of the fact that you need to walk 80 kilometers (50 miles) to lose 1 pound of fat, it`s clear that exercise (or lack of it) does not have a big direct influence on our weight.
The truth: The single biggest cause of obesity is bad eating habits. The majority of people become overweight simply because they eat too many fattening foods. Exercise is important for our health and for it`s indirect effects on our weight. But unless we also eat sensibly, the effect of exercise on our weight is much reduced.