Fad Diets: The Effectiveness and Health Implications
As humans we are the only creatures who create food into more than just a nutritional need for survival. The American culture and society has a preoccupation with food, which poses a set of challenges for both the physical and mental body to maintain health (Abrams & Wells, 2005). This preoccupation of food causes many medical risks such as obesity, binge eating, food addiction, and eating disorders (Cogan & Ernsberger, 1999). Ward-Smith (2010) defines obesity as a body mass index (BMI) at 30 or above, calculated using height and weight measurements. Abrams and Wells (2005) state that obesity has grown from a moderate concern for few individuals to an epidemic health crisis effecting millions. More than 35% of all adults in the U.S are considered obese (Ward-Smith, 2010; Roehrig, Thompson, & Cafri, 2008). Ward-Smith (2010) stresses that over-weight and obese individuals cost the United States economy an estimated $117 billion. In addition to the costly effects, are comorbid with many negative health risks, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, sleep apnea, and more (Ward-Smith, 2010; Roehrig, Thompson, & Cafri, 2008). The effects of obese and overweight individuals impact both the person experiencing the weight through mental and physical risk, as well as the society in which they live in through cost factors.
According to Abrams and colleagues (2005), America does not only have a preoccupation with food but an obsession with excessive weight-loss. Media has created a popular desired image of thinness and skinny. As stated by Abrams and Wells (2005), media portrays images of anorexic individuals as beautiful, sexy, and desired within our world. Severe risks and repercussions are exhibited for individuals who try to emulate this image (Cogan & Ernsberger, 1999; Abrams & Wells, 2005). The damaging side effects of the pursuit of thinness are a growing public health and social problem, which heightens concern in health professionals (Cogan & Ernsberger, 1999). With the facts on the table it is observed that over and underweight individuals are both at risk for physical and mental health implications (Abrams & Wells, 2005).
The attraction to weight loss, the latest dieting trends, and skinny notions is prevalent within today’s society but it is not limited to our time era (Coe, 2012). There is an extensive history of weight-loss and dieting. Coe (2012) found that the first representation of a “curvy” woman was dated back to artifacts from 35000 B.C. The first dieting and weight-loss influence book with published in the 11th century, centered on what constituted an ideal body weight (Coe, 2012). Focus on excess weight arose and became more prevalent in the 18th century, fueled by the abundance of high calorie foods available to the wealthy (Coe, 2012). By the 1800s diet experts where fairly popular but it was not until the 19th century when the first emergence of celebrity endorsement diet...