Many widely held beliefs about weight loss don't stand up to scientific scrutiny, say doctors who want to set the public health record straight on myths like the calorie-burning benefits of sex or the value of eating breakfast.
In Wednesday's online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, U.S. doctors tackle seven obesity-related myths commonly found in the media and material from government agencies as well as six presumptions thought to be true despite a lack of convincing evidence.
The myths were:
Small sustained changes in energy intake or expenditure will produce large, long-term weight changes.
Setting realistic goals in obesity treatment is important, because otherwise patients will become frustrated and lose less weight.
Large, rapid weight loss is associated with poorer long-term weight outcomes than is slow, gradual weight loss.
Assessing the stage of change of diet readiness is important in helping patients who seek weight-loss treatment.
Physical-education classes in their current format play an important role in preventing or reducing childhood obesity.
Breastfeeding is protective against obesity.
A bout of sexual activity burns 100 to 300 calories for each person involved.