New year can bring attention to weight


Published: Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 31, 2003 at 11:11 p.m.
With the start of the New Year, Americans are thinking about losing it. Losing weight, that is.
Approximately 124 million Americans are either on a diet or trying to control their weight, according to recent surveys conducted by the Calorie Control Council, a nonprofit association that has tracked weight loss trends for the past 20 years.
Two-thirds of all adults are overweight, and the alarming trend extends to children, as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 20 to 30 percent of youngsters are now obese or likely to become so.
The council sponsors a national survey every two years to explore Americans' eating and weight control attitudes and habits.
Based on that survey, it predicts the following top five trends in dieting and weight loss for 2004:
  • Low-carb craze continues: Currently, roughly 25 million dieters are following popular diet plans such as Atkins, the Zone and Sugar Busters to help control their weight. More than half of those on a diet are consuming more high-protein foods to help control their weight.
    Gainesville dietitian Kathryn Parker warns that anyone can lose weight by cutting calories, but it's important to keep the proper balance of carbohydrates and protein in our diet.
    "The only carbs we need to be phobic about are the processed sugars in our foods," Parker notes.
  • "Active" is the way to go: As modern conveniences continue to make life easier, consumers will make a conscious choice to squeeze more activity into their day. More schools will also reintroduce regular physical education classes.
    "We've just got to make more time to play with our kids, and why not do it through exercise?" Parker asks.
  • Web sites boost weight loss: In the hunt for effective ways to lose weight, more consumers will seek help online. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that online dieting sites can be effective.
    Depending on Web advice alone to guide your diet can be bad news, warns Parker, because those sites are unregulated.
    "If you are going to provide diet counseling, you need to be licensed," she said.
  • "Diabesity" is a major concern: With the increasing number of overweight and obese, those afflicted with type 2 diabetes is also expected to rise. Call them the "diabese."
    Children, following the example of their parents, are caught in the trend.
    Type 2 diabetes, once a disease of older, overweight adults, is now being diagnosed in third-graders.
    Preventing weight gain and losing excess weight will be top priority as a healthy weight can help protect against type 2 diabetes.
  • More options on the menu: Restaurants will offer more choices to dieters, including low-carb options or meals that are in line with various national weight loss guidelines.
    The survey findings are based on a nationally projectable sample of 1,200 Americans age 18 and older, the Calorie Control Council reports.
    Diane Chun can be reached at 374-5041 or chund@ gvillesun.com.
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