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Online Dieting Popular and Successful

Internet dieting has become extremely popular in recent years, according to this article from AP. We have seen some of the results here: this post on the South Beach Diet has been gathering comments steadily for nine months, and CW Fisher has just started a series on what he calls the “Don’t-Buy-It Diet” here.

Part of the reason the Internet and dieting have become such good buds is simple demographics: 75% of the nation is now online, and about 66% of adult Americans are overweight:

    Internet dieting has exploded in the last few years, attracting people who lack the time to attend face-to-face meetings or those too embarrassed to get on a scale in front of strangers. But the popularity of cyberdieting has left some experts wondering whether it is as effective as traditional counseling.

    About two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Obesity, which is linked to diabetes, heart disease and other ailments, is on pace to beat smoking as the nation’s leading cause of preventable death.

    [Jacqueline] Foss felt she needed to lose some weight and joined eDiets.com, one of the largest online diet programs with over 200,000 active members. For $5 a week, dieters receive personalized meal plans and shopping lists and around-the-clock access to nutritionists and peer-support chat rooms. Dieters are encouraged to keep a daily log of their food and a weekly tally of their weight. If they forget, a message will pop up on their computer the next time they sign on.

    “It’s not all about food and diet. A lot of it is getting the tools you need to make behavioral changes,” said Susan Burke, a registered dietitian and vice president of nutrition services for eDiets.

    While cyberdieting generally reaches a wider audience and is significantly cheaper than weigh-in meetings with a counselor, skeptics argue the biggest drawback is lack of accountability.

    ….Last month, researchers at the University of Vermont suggested that the Internet appears to work as well as offline programs in maintaining long-term weight loss. The research published in the journal Obesity Research did not examine whether the Internet actually helped people lose weight.

    Instead, Vermont researchers tracked 255 overweight and obese adults who first lost weight with the help of a counselor. The adults were then randomly assigned an 18-month maintenance program via the Internet, in-person counseling or limited face-to-face contact. Researchers found that people in the Internet group lost as much weight in the maintenance phase as those who met regularly with a dietitian.

    “From a public health perspective, you can treat so many more thousands of people on the Internet than you can in person,” said Jean Harvey-Berino, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of nutrition and food science. “There is some value to it.”

    Joan Rainwater, a paralegal turned yoga teacher from Waterville, Ohio, used to be a “grazer,” constantly snacking at night without keeping track of what she ate. But after Rainwater signed on to CaloriesCount.com two years ago, she discovered that being anonymous helped her keep faithful records of her weight without the pressure of weigh-in meetings.

    “I was more honest with myself,” said Rainwater, who shaved off 32 pounds and slimmed from a size 14 to a size 6. “There were times when I’d skip a meeting because I knew I didn’t want to get on the scale.”

And this is a very interesting point: we just discussed yesterday the tendency for people to be more honest on the Internet than in “real life” – does this honesty also apply to oneself? If so, then it makes perfect sense for people to turn to the Internet to keep themselves honest, so to speak, in pursuit of self-discipline and a healthier lifestyle.

In cae you are looking for the answer, I have it: eat less and exercise more. The rest is embellishment. A corollary of this rule is that health and fitness are a process, not a destination. Results at any given time don’t matter nearly as much as habits: establish good habits and the results will take care of themselves over time.

Of course, if you need to lose some drastic weight in a hurry – let’s say you have a reunion coming up in two weeks. My advice: fast.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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