When it comes to myths surrounding obesity, the list of misconceptions is as long as the myriad of complications it can cause.
While overeating may play a role, the development and persistence of obesity is the result of numerous genetic, environmental, and biological factors. In addition to influencing obesity, these factors also affect hunger, satiety, propensity for specific foods, and response to nutritional interventions.
Many people believe that a perfect diet exists and that once it is identified and implemented, life can resume as normal. In reality, the chronic condition requires a nutritional plan that will need to be continued indefinitely to keep weight and health stable. In fact, an intensification of the entire treatment plan, including nutrition, may be required when the body metabolically adapts to weight loss. Anti-obesity medications may also be needed to enhance adherence to the nutritional plan, induce further weight loss, and/or prevent weight regain.
Some believe that weight gain or loss is determined by a simple equation: calories in vs. calories out. On the contrary, weight and appetite are regulated by multiple neurohormonal processes that involve adipose tissue, endocrine organs, gastrointestinal tract peptides, and the peripheral and central nervous systems. The body responds hormonally to the type, quality and quantity of food eaten, which goes beyond calories. Foods that increase insulin levels, such as sugars, starches and other ultra-processed foods, promote lipogenesis and inhibit lipolysis.
It’s important to understand common obesity and weight management myths that your patients—and other healthcare providers—may believe to be true.
Here are three common misconceptions about nutrition and obesity:
Sandra Christensen, MSN, ARNP, FOMA, is a board-certified nurse practitioner and has specialized in obesity treatment since 2005. She owns Integrative Medical Weight Management in Seattle, Washington, where she provides personalized, comprehensive obesity treatment. She is a fellow of the Obesity Medicine Association, serves on the Board of Trustees, and holds the Certificate of Advanced Education in Obesity Medicine.