Supplement Perspectives
weight management

Weight Management Products: Does the Public Even Care? (Part 1 of 2)

Manufacturers have a responsibility, writes Mark Becker in the first of two parts, to provide more than supplements for a struggling, obese public.

Here’s a statistic that will surprise absolutely no one: the obesity epidemic in the U.S. continues to rise.

In fact, according to Gallup.com, the adult obesity rate in 2013 was 27.2 percent, up from 26.2 percent in 2012. Even more troublesome is that childhood obesity also continues to climb. According to 2013 statistics posted on the American Heart Association website, 23.9 million children ages 2 to 19 (about 1 in 3) are overweight or obese.

Overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults. This increases to 80 percent if one or both parents are overweight or obese. Moreover, a Stanford University School of Medicine study indicates that having obese parents is the one factor that most increases the likelihood of childhood obesity.

Obesity is widespread and continues to be a leading public health problem in the U.S. Obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize but one of the most difficult to treat.

People often look to programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, which offer group support. There are diets like Nutrisystem and Slim Fast that are short-term fixes. There are weight loss drugs, weight loss shakes, weight loss bars, and even weight loss surgery. We want quick fixes, but the results are painfully obvious – a culture that has still not figured out a long-term solution to weight management.

Can manufacturers play a meaningful role? Can a long-term approach be implemented that will allow people to consume functional foods and dietary supplements that ultimately create permanent results? Manufacturers must work to educate and create efficacious products that make changes to body composition and metabolism that increase the body’s ability to burn calories. And these changes do not depend on a large reduction in the calories consumed. The changes depend on adjustments made to the foods eaten and adding certain supplements to the diet.

The result will be a decrease in fatty tissue and an increase in the ratio of lean muscle tissue to adipose (fat) tissue in the body. And an increase in lean tissue not only burns calories, but also gives women their shapely figures and men their muscle tone. In any successful weight-loss regimen, you can judge yourself by how you look in the mirror and how your clothes fit rather than by how much you weigh.

When people think about foods that promote weight loss, the thinking goes back to low-calorie foods. Well, it is much more than that. And one of the keys to losing weight or maintaining an ideal weight is including fiber the diet. While not a magic bullet, fiber significantly helps with satiety. And this makes perfect sense. One of the key weight control challenges is to control hunger. Appetite is affected by many things, including when you eat and the composition of meals, including the amount of fats, carbohydrates, protein, fiber and water. Consuming healthy high-fiber foods makes you feel full. There is a wide range of great high-fiber natural products in health food stores everywhere.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates are directly responsible for the obesity epidemic in the U.S. The problem with sugars and refined foods is that they are so addictive and exist in a wide range of processed foods. And processed foods are all around us. While there are plenty of reasons to avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates, is it realistic to think we can eliminate them from our diet?

That said, manufacturers must educate people about nutritious foods and the information that is presented on food labels. They must also generate new science that will help in formulating new dietary supplements that will truly impact weight management. There are some compelling dietary supplements to consider.

And I will get to them in my next post.

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