100 lb. Club - Is obesity irreversible?




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salsa chip
10-26-2012, 10:11 AM
Link (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9635595/Obesity-may-be-irreversible.html)

I haven't checked out any references, but perhaps some of you know of this already?

My first reaction was one of depression and almost despair. My second - well, I think I'm still on the first, to be honest. :(

What say you?


Lakilaulea
10-26-2012, 10:36 AM
I don't buy it. I come from a family full of obese, super-obese, and morbidly obese people. Some of them have been that way since childhood. Most still are. My older sis (who's morbidly obese) is convinced she is the way she is because of heredity. And while I don't completely disagree (there's gotta be a reason we're all this way, or prone to be this way) I don't fully buy that either. I was always thin, but started steadily climbing up in numbers in my mid-20s. I'm sure I'm preconditioned to be overweight, but I know I can control it as well. It's just harder for me than the average person. I know people, both related and not, who have spent 15, 20, 25 years overweight or obese and managed to not only bring their weight down to a healthy BMI, but maintain it for years. And I know if they can, I can. I think that article is dangerous because it just gives more ammunition for people with my sister's mindset to continue to make excuses for their obesity and not change it. I know she could if she tried. But she's determined to blame genes, stress, and whatever else for her body.

Don't let this article dash your hopes. And I may get flamed for this, but I think the Telegraph likes to publish a lot of hyperbole.

If Obesity is irreversible, then explain all the once obese people who've taken if off and kept it off? I'm sure there are some people who will never lose the weight they want, and I'm also sure there are other reasons for it--not enough motivation, psychological issues, medical issues... But trust me when I say I was literally raised by a family full of the Klumps and I know you can change if you really want to.

tubolard
10-26-2012, 10:40 AM
I don't take to much stock in it honestly. There might be some people that cannot lose weight because of medical issues but I don't know how they are saying that once you are obese you can never be normal again. I understand that one might have to be more vigilant with your choices, but I refuse to believe that I will never be thin and healthy again. Maybe I read it wrong, but I choose to believe I can do this!
I agree, what about all the people who have been obese and lost it?


defenestrator
10-26-2012, 10:53 AM
Well, as someone who has been obese for twenty years, I would say that the fight to lose the weight can be very difficult.

For me, I've lost 50 lbs in the past two and a half years and the slow and steady approach has been one that has worked. I seem to almost need to ratchet the weight off. 10 lbs here, wait a month or two, 10 lbs more. I haven't lost any weight since July but I've been training for a half-marathon and letting my food intake slip a little bit to handle the extra recovery demands. But really, it's kind of depressing to talk to a normal weight person and say, "I work out hard 1-2 hours every day, I eat pretty reasonably, and yet I'm still at least 50 lbs overweight." And kind of depressing to think that getting that 50lbs off will take at least another two years at the rate I'm going, And kind of depressing to think that I have a lifetime of maintenance. But I don't think that I accept that it is impossible, because my progress so far, as slow as it has been, is still there as evidence that it is not impossible.

time2lose
10-26-2012, 10:58 AM
My thoughts on the possibility that obesity is irreversible?... Maybe... Or rather I think that it can become more difficult to reverse obesity after many years of morbid obesity and can be more difficult to maintain.

My reasons:

1- Personal experience - I was morbidly obese for over 30 years. About 3 years ago I did get below 200. All the charts and calculators were wrong about how many calories a day that I could eat and lose weight. I can consistently eat 1200 calories a day and only lose .5 pounds a week when the calculators say the I should be losing 1.5 to 2 pounds a week. However, I am experimenting now with lowering my carb intake and that seems to increase my rate of loss someone what.

2 - Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes,
Somewhere in his book he does state that people can reach a point where it is too late to reverse obesity

3 - Look at http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/living-maintenance/51478-some-answers-about-genes-environment-obesity-maintenance.html. This is really more about the difficulty that the formerly obese can have maintaining.

I don't think that we get to the point that obesity is totally irreversible, but I do believe that it gets harder. The lesson from that? Tackle it now, not later.

findingfawn
10-26-2012, 01:15 PM
Ok first of all, the article had me busting up laughing with all these crazy mental images of mice dieting and hitting the gym.

Now, I do agree with it to a point. It is a fact that most people who lose weight will regain it (and then some). BUT!!!! We are all here on this board full of amazingly successful losers. Many here have lost huge amounts of weight and have kept it off... some for a very long time.

Look at those who are successful in keeping the weight off and you will see one thing in common. They knew they had to change the way they were eating for ever. It wasn't a "crash exercise and diet course" that they went into. They changed how they look at food, they changed the types and quantities they ate. They committed to moving more. If they did it we can to!!!

ETA.... I still keep seeing a mouse laying or sitting? on his back side propped against a wall with all this junk food around him with this big ol' belly swollen up.

Lakilaulea
10-26-2012, 01:28 PM
Now, I do agree with it to a point. It is a fact that most people who lose weight will regain it (and then some). BUT!!!! We are all here on this board full of amazingly successful losers. Many here have lost huge amounts of weight and have kept it off... some for a very long time.

Look at those who are successful in keeping the weight off and you will see one thing in common. They knew they had to change the way they were eating for ever. It wasn't a "crash exercise and diet course" that they went into. They changed how they look at food, they changed the types and quantities they ate. They committed to moving more. If they did it we can to!!!


Totally agree with this answer. I think the article was really skewed. It was right in the sense that crash dieting won't work after a certain point. We all know that. And we also already know the longer you stay fat, the harder it will be to lose the weight. But it's only hard because we make it hard, not because it's irreversible beyond our control. If you commit to a healthier lifestyle, change your eating habits for good, and make a conscious decision to exercise, obesity is definitely not permanent. The problem is, the longer you stay complacent about your body and weight, the easier it will be to want to go the "quick easy" crash diet route and then give up when you don't see the 20lbs. a week like you thought. I still call BS on the general tone of the article, though. Some girls will read this and resign themselves to a life of obesity and that's just wrong.

LiannaKole
10-26-2012, 03:06 PM
I think studies are biased a lot of times. People assume they can eat how they want once the weight is off, or think if it's happening too slowly it's a failure and they quit, or there are mitigating psychological factors, age or disability, etc.

I don't think it's irreversible in the majority of cases. But I do think a lot of times people don't understand or don't want to commit to what they have to do to lose weight.

It IS a lot harder for people who have been obese (as I have) - hormones and metabilism and other things are different.

I don't think it's impossible. I do think it requires a significant number of significant changes in a lot of cases. And I think that can be really, really hard.

Crash dieting won't work (not if you're obese, especially), and it may be slow going, and it'll be harder for someone obese to get to a healthy weight than it will be for a an always-healthy-weight person to lose a few pounds.

But no, definitely not impossible for most people.

sevencallmemom
10-26-2012, 04:18 PM
I had one of my special needs son's specialists tell me that he wrote a paper on this kind of thing and talked about how our son was "failure to thrive" and was having an impossible time gaining weight, even with his feeding tube, because he had "flipped the switch" in that direction (to semi-quote the article) just like I (then at 320+) had "flipped the switch" in the opposite direction and would find it impossible to lose weight. His words were a relief to me then because I felt like a failure for both my son and I, but now 2 years later, I'm so glad that his words didn't prove to be absolute truth for us.

I'm no longer obese and my son is slowly but surely gaining weight.

There's always hope!

toastedsmoke
10-26-2012, 07:06 PM
Don't not despair salsa! I was obese from very early childhood (I was called "fatty" by HILARIOUS strangers from well before I was 2) till last year. The research from those scientists says I should not be able to be a normal weight, but I am, knock on wood. I may only have been "normal weight" for like 6 months but I've maintained being overweight (for someone who's always been obese, "overweight" to me is pretty much model skinny) for well over 18 months never slipping back into obese. I'm not saying I have it all figured out, I'm just saying it's possible. There are so many members here who have proven that research is not absolute fact.

The research has been done and published. But you aren't a mouse and you are no one's statistic. If weight loss is what you want and you find a plan you can stick to and you stay committed, you'll find your way. You can totally do this and succeed whatever the research says.

theox
10-26-2012, 07:23 PM
The work of the National Weight Control Registry (http://www.nwcr.ws/) might help allay some of your fears.

Losing weight and keeping it off is difficult, but it's not impossible. Just take a look at some of the people on here.

linJber
10-26-2012, 08:20 PM
I think a big difference between mice and humans is that mice eat from instinct and humans can eat with knowledge of what they're doing. We might have to be more diligent, but i think we can keep the weight off.

Lin

kaplods
10-26-2012, 09:35 PM
If you read the article, it's only the author NOT THE RESEARCHERS who used the word "irreversible."

Rather the researcher is quoted as saying that it's important to intervene early, because obesity is a self-perpetuating cycle.

I would agree with that wholeheartedly. I do not find this kind of research disheartening in the least, because it doesn't prove that weight loss is unacheivable, it only indicates that it's damned difficult. ****, I've known that for 41 years (since kindergarten).

In fact it's rather encouraging to have science confirm what I've already learned from 40 plus years of struggling with me weight. I'm not lazy, crazy, or stupid for finding weight loss so difficult - it IS difficult. Looks like I'm not a useless blob of weakness after all - it really IS harder for me to lose weight than someone who's been super obese, and crash dieting really may have made it worse.

Obesity is not irreversible, but it is damned difficult to reverse - especially the longer you've dealt with it, and you know what, people need to know and understand that so they don't question why it's so hard. Up front we all need to know that it isn't inherent laziness or moral failing that makes weight loss difficult. It's difficult because our bodies really do work differently.


I've fought with obesity since kindergarten, and even as a kindergartener I felt that something was horribly "wrong with me." My parents in exasperation would say "How can you still be hungry when you just ate?" Or worse, "What's wrong with you that you're still hungry?"

It reinforced to me the idea that I was somehow "broken." And yet, I was always told that weight loss was easy, "you just have to be hungry."

Knowing that obesity is hard to kick, and that I'm not inherently lazy, crazy, or stupid for finding it hard, has made all the difference. Just the acknowledgement that I really do feel hunger differently than most thinner people has made this journey much more difficult.

There are things in life that take a great deal of effort to overcome, and obesity is one of those. If you go in thinking "all I have to do is eat less and move more," you may find it isn't nearly that easy. And if you think it's SUPPOSED to be that easy, it makes it much easier to give up when the going gets tough.

I've lost 105 lbs so far, but it's taken me six years to do it (eight if you count the two years I tried and failed to lose - but did succeed at not-gaining which was progress in its own right).

That's FAILURE by most definitions, but I refuse to use most definitions. I consider those 105 lbs an astonishing accomplishment that I deserve to be damned proud of - and I am.

If I believed that obesity was easily reversible, I would be kicking myself for the 150 lbs I still have to lose. In fact, I would be so convinced that if I couldn't make it to goal, then the attempt wasn't worth it, and I might as well at least get to eat what I want, whenever I want -- to be finally free of the constant hunger.

I DID do that for many years, but now that I know that obesity really does make weight loss more difficult for me (I'm not just imagining it because I think I'm special) it makes me aware that I DO have to fight harder, and I have to be less condemning of difficulties. I have to accept that this journey is going to be difficult, even an uphill battle. It isn't fair, but it is what it is (and it is fair in the sense that the world is unfair. People are born with or acquire all sorts of disabilities, and a tendency towards obesity isn't the worst thing that can befall a human being).

It's rough being obese, but I can think of things that would be worse. So I'm grateful that I only have to deal with what I have to deal with and not other stuff.

This isn't cause for saying "I'm doomed to be fat," but it is occasion to say "this journey isn't going to be easy, and it's probably not going to be fast, I just have to keep my eye on the goal and keep plucking away, day by day, and ounce by ounce."

Two tools that I've found indespensible are 1. celebrating the "not gaining" and realizing that every ounce matters, even when I think further weight loss is possible, I remind myself that I could be right, but that "not gaining" is far more important than is losing that next pound. I worry about the maintenance first and the losing second. And 2. Reducing carbs. I can't even begin to explain how much low-carb eating helps prevent the kind of hunger that makes weight loss dieting virtually unbearable.

Vex
10-27-2012, 05:35 PM
NO! It is not irreversible!

No, no, no, no!

Trazey34
10-27-2012, 08:50 PM
I say no! I don't say it's easy but it can be done. I keep a keen eye out all the time for slip ups, for excuses I might be making, for bad choices etc. I've lost this weight ONCE and I'm not doing it again, mouse or no mouse LOL

TripSwitch
10-28-2012, 07:43 AM
My concern when I see something like this is where this sort of thinking about obesity will lead down the road... And by that, I mean if we start to see obesity as "irreversible" do we just give up on those people?

Or just as concerning to me, do we start to move toward perhaps more radical solutions for obese people such as pushing them towards maybe weight loss surgery?

Definitely worrisome as far as I'm concerned...

kaplods
10-28-2012, 02:49 PM
I think incurable is a better word (though many will argue that this one is as bad).

There is no cure, only treatment. You can get your obesity into remission, but you will never have the luxury of "forgetting about diet" the way SOME (definitely not all, but some) "naturally-thin" folks are able to do.

I don't think it ever becomes "second nature" in quite the same way for formerly obese folks. There will always have to be some level of vigilance to prevent relapsing back into obesity.

Some people argue that even that thought is discouraging, for me it's extremely encouraging. This explains why I don't just maintain when I give up on weight loss. Giving up means gaining. I never understood why I had to work so hard just to "not gain," and now I know, it's because gosh-darn-it, this IS dififcult.

I can whine about it, I can cry that it's not fair, I can try to wish it away, but I just can't escape the fact that this is difficult and probably always will be. There's no use in asking "why can't I think and eat like a thin person who has never had a weight isse," becaue the answer is "that's just the reality, deal with it."

I don't mind doing difficult things. I've done a lot of them in my life. I've even done some things that other people have called impossible. However I am and always have been a pragmatist.

My motto in life has been:

If at first you don't succeed; try, try again, and if you still don't succeed after many tries, then find something else you're better at and divert your energies into that.

I gave up on weightloss many times because I failed at it miserably (and it wasn't just me thinking so). I'd give up in frustration for a short time (and then try again).

But the thing is I wasn't really failing. I was having tremendous success, I just didn't realize it. I thought I was failing miserably when I would hit many-month-long weight loss stalls. I failed to see the tremendous success of just "not gaining."

Now I know that I am succeeding tremendoulsy even when I succeed only at "not gaining." I didn't know that before. I thought (despite the statistics that I knew said otherwise) that I was failing miserably at weight loss when I only achived 1 pound weight loss in a month - or even when I acheived no pounds.

I didn't see the success, so I embraced the failure until I had the energy to try again. Now I don't give up, because I see the success in "not gaining." Just by seeing that success, I've acheived 105 lbs of weight loss (half again as much as I've ever acheived before). I've beat my old record by 35 lbs.

On days that I feel stuck, I remind myself of the successes to keep me focused on acheiving more, but even if I don't, I've still got a prize worth keeping. And that's one thing that we don't teach. Our culture really does reinforce the idea that if you can't get skinny, you might as well be really, really fat. If you're obese, you might as well be morbidly obese, you're so disgusting, and if your morbidly obese, you might as well be super morbidly obese.

We often have a zero tolerance policy on obesity. If you're obese, you don't matter, and if you don't matter you might as well keep eating because food is the only pleasure you deserve (and you don't really deserve that, but you don't have the strength and willpower to deny yourself completely, and once you start eating, you can't stop because it's the only pleasure in your life).

Obesity is a self-perpetuating problem, even without the "help" that our culture gives it by shunning the obese and setting up unacheivable goals for weight loss.

"Everyone knows" that 2 lbs per week is the holy grail of weight loss, but do we know how few people EVER acheive that weight loss on a consistent bases. Oh sure, we hear about the people who've acheived it (and more) but we don't hear about the people who didn't acheive that lofty goal. And we don't hear alot about the people who did get to their goal, but only by half pound and quarter pound per week losses. And because we don't hear about those people, we assume they don't exist, so if we're not losing rapidly we assume we will fail, because we've never heard of the slow-losers who managed to succeed anyway.

I may never be thin, but I'm going to get as close as I can. If that means 1 more pound or 150, so what? I don't have to worry about whether or not I'll ever make my destination, I just have to keep walking (or heck, at least standing my ground and facing) in the right direction.

Steph7409
10-28-2012, 03:49 PM
Kaplods, I've taken to heart your strategy of viewing not gaining as success and it has made a huge difference to me. Having been overweight for most of my life, I know this is always going to be a struggle for me, but I don't need to make it harder by considering myself a failure if I don't make my goal or if it takes me longer than I'd like.

I also agree with everyone who has said that using words like "irreversible" may give overweight people an out, an excuse to give up or not even try to lose weight.

Misti in Seattle
10-28-2012, 06:32 PM
I don't buy it for a second. Note too that toward the top the article says *crash* exercise and diets don't work... .which is true IMO. But lifestyle changes and learning to eat and exercise properly over the long term DO work.

puneri
10-28-2012, 09:42 PM
Kaplods,
I have high regards for you. You are fighting six years single mindedly.

avalonmoon
11-02-2012, 03:30 PM
I agree with many of the others who have answered. My aunt was extremey obese for her height/bone frame almost all her life. Sadly doctors always told her the negative on changing matters so she bought the concept nothing she wouuld do could improve her health and get her non-obese. Unfortunatey besides her diabetes she spent her last years going to dialysis and getting countless surgeries. If she would have just been rebellious enough to regect the notion "you're obese now-there's no going back now" voices in her head and ignored opinions and just tried to lose weight, she might be here still and healthy. I feel obesity can be changed; however it deepends on the stregth inside the individual as well as the motivation.We really have more power within us, it's a matter of using it to overcome the obstacle of obesity. I know it isn't easy but there are so many great success stories. 'Obese' ..Incidently I have always hated that word.:?:

sontaikle
11-03-2012, 02:56 PM
I think incurable is a better word (though many will argue that this one is as bad).

There is no cure, only treatment. You can get your obesity into remission, but you will never have the luxury of "forgetting about diet" the way SOME (definitely not all, but some) "naturally-thin" folks are able to do.

I don't think it ever becomes "second nature" in quite the same way for formerly obese folks. There will always have to be some level of vigilance to prevent relapsing back into obesity.

Some people argue that even that thought is discouraging, for me it's extremely encouraging. This explains why I don't just maintain when I give up on weight loss. Giving up means gaining. I never understood why I had to work so hard just to "not gain," and now I know, it's because gosh-darn-it, this IS dififcult.



I agree wholeheartedly. I once heard someone who had lost a substantial amount of weight call themselves "obese in remission" which describes all of us fairly well.

Most of us have to accept the fact that we're going to have to watch ourselves forever and I think that acceptance can help us defy the statistics and keep losing or maintaining weight. At first I found the thought of it a bit discouraging, but the longer I am on this journey I've found myself just accepting it and it doesn't really register as something negative. I realize that the benefits outweigh any annoyance and I really don't want to go back.

geoblewis
11-03-2012, 04:30 PM
I like the "obese in remission" concept. I have learned to accept that when it comes to eating whatever I want and not gaining an ounce, I am so NOT one of those people! I will have to monitor and track everything because when I don't, I start regaining weight. It's a hard thing to accept.

All those people who have lost a lot of weight only to regain it all most likely went back to their old habits. It's so easy to do. It's what I did, mindlessly, the last time I lost 40 lbs., and the time I lost 60 lbs. before that...

ubergirl
11-08-2012, 04:19 PM
I say not irreversible, but more like a chronic disease which sometimes gets better and sometimes get worse, but that responds better to being actively managed than left alone.

For twenty years, I was morbidly obese, after putting on a lot of weight rapidly during my pregnancies. During that time, I was going up some every single year. I went from 190 to 230 in a short period of time, then I spent the next 20 years creeping upward from 230 to 300. I was getting progressively less and less healthy and there was no end in sight.

Then I lost most of the weight and kept it off for a while. Then, I gained a bunch back during a period of stress.

But the fact is, I kept off more than 10% of the original body weight. I'm totally better off, from a medical point of view, than I was when I weighed 300 and was on a steadily upward path.

I'm not satisfied, and I want to get the weight off again, but I also think that maybe I'm going to be more realistic and settle for being happy with getting out of the obese range and into the overweight range. I know that for myself, I could simply not drive myself lower than a BMI of about 28, no matter how hard I tried.

Can a person who has been morbidly obese for a long period of time get to a normal BMI and keep it there-- yes, but maybe that's a bit much for most people to achieve. It must depend on a lot of things such as age, metabolism, and probably other things we don't fully understand.

Can a person who is morbidly obese improve their health by losing some, or a lot of the weight and permanently maintaining a lower weight than the one she started with? Absolutely, yes.

Had I never started trying, back in 2009, I'd likely weigh 330 now, because I tended to gain at a rate of about ten pounds a year. So, by that math, you could say I'm maintaining a 70 lb loss, in a way.

The fat vs. thin divide is too stark and we think we are failures if we don't get "all the way to goal..." but we are winners if we trend thinner and stay thinner, no matter whether or not we actually "stay thin."