Harvard Docs Find Common Sense Rampant in Overweight Americans

People are taking the safe and sensible route for weight loss, and it's actually working.

I'm just shocked. (Photo via Photodisc/Thinkstock)

Okay, so we all know the drill, right? A third of the country is overweight, it’s all so terribly unhealthy hauling all this poundage around, and at least half — if not three-quarters of us — are trying to lose weight, etc., etc. And it’s pretty general knowledge that the world is filled with silver bullets for all this: aisles in Target and Wal-Mart are stacked with diet pills, as is my television late at night, as is the ad column of my computer screen (usually with that weird ballooning-shrinking cartoon waistline) all of it promising that yes, the secret to losing all this weight is indeed right around the corner, all wrapped up in a pretty little box with a bow on top, and just waiting for us to open it up.

And guess what: we’re not buying it! Go us!

No, I’m serious. A new study just came out of Harvard Med taking a good, hard look at what overweight Americans are actually doing to lose weight, and more relevantly, what the successful ones are doing. What they found was this: out of roughly 4,000 obese individuals (a sample essentially representative of the general U.S.), about 60 percent of them were trying to lose weight. Of that those, another 60 percent had successfully sheared off five to ten percent of their body weight. And their secret: eat a little less food and cut the fat, drink more water, exercise, and maybe take a doc-approved, prescription weight loss drug. Oh, and some of them did join a weight-loss program, but mostly, it seems, for the general support, since they didn’t really buy into the branded foods and products those sorts of programs have been known to hawk.

The news stories covering this right now are mostly focused on the general fact that there is in fact, a simple, effective weight loss strategy out there (at least in fickle science this week). But can I get a little radical here and say that I think this is showing a thread of common sense running through the populace**? Holy crap! In America? Regarding weight? For real? After the seeming-relentless drumbeat of diet-pill dangers, fad diet bull, obscure herbal remedies and cleansers, and obsessive eating, this is awesome. Who knows, maybe we’re coming to our senses. Pat yourself on the back, everybody, and keep doing what you’re doing.

(**At least, as it applies to healthy weight loss. I abstain from political commentary. Except for the implicit commentary I just made.)