How to reach a winning weight

scale-tape-2-big1. Skip “quick fixes.” Fad diets may cause rapid weight loss, but they’re highly likely to fail in the long run. Avoid short-term diets and instead set realistic goals that include choosing healthy foods in smaller portions.

Diet pills and gastric bypass surgery for weight loss

The promise of a quick fix for excess weight has always attracted Americans. But, drugs and gastric bypass surgery are not for everyone.

  • The National Institutes of Health recommends that tested and approved diet pills be used only by people with BMIs above 30, or those with BMIs above 27 and weight-related health problems. These drugs have negative side effects, and for people who need to lose only a few pounds, the risks likely outweigh the benefits.
  • In similar fashion, The National Institutes of Health recommends bariatric surgery only for people who are severely overweight, namely those with BMIs of 40 or higher (or people with BMIs of 35 or higher who have type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or other serious weight-related health problems).
  • This type of surgery also requires lifelong changes in eating habits and attention to good nutrition.

2. Be more active. Choose activities you enjoy, and try exercising with a friend for extra motivation.

3. Turn off the television. Watching less TV can give you more time to be active—and less time to be enticed by junk food ads. Two ways to cut back on TV-watching: Take the TV out of your bedroom, and make sure it’s off during meals.

4. Stop the soda. Research suggests that children and adults who drink soda or other sugary drinks are more likely to gain weight than those who don’t, and that switching instead to water or unsweetened drinks can reduce weight.

5. Tame your blood sugar. Eating high-glycemic foods that leads to blood sugar spikes may contribute to weight gain. Such foods include white bread, white rice, and other highly processed grain products. As an alternative, choose foods that have a gentler effect on blood sugar such as wheat berries, steel-cut oats, beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

6. Think before you eat. Before you mindlessly reach for a snack, pause and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry? Is there a healthier choice?” Research shows that people who eat mindfully consume smaller portions than those who do not. (20) A study of type 2 diabetic individuals showed that training in mindful eating caused a reduction in caloric intake, modest weight loss, and improved glycemic control. (21) These studies suggest that focusing mindfully on what you’re eating may be a powerful weight-loss tool.

7. Get support. In a randomized, controlled trial comparing weight-loss interventions in obese patients with at least one cardiovascular risk factor, patients receiving support – whether delivered in-person or remotely (via telephone, a study-specific website, or email) – maintained significant weight loss over a 2-year period. (22)


20. Beshara, M., A.D. Hutchinson, and C. Wilson, Does mindfulness matter? Everyday mindfulness, mindful eating and self-reported serving size of energy dense foods among a sample of South Australian adults. Appetite, 2013. 67: p. 25-9.

21. Miller, C.K., et al., Comparative effectiveness of a mindful eating intervention to a diabetes self-management intervention among adults with type 2 diabetes: a pilot study. J Acad Nutr Diet, 2012. 112(11): p. 1835-42.

22. Appel, L.J., et al., Comparative effectiveness of weight-loss interventions in clinical practice. N Engl J Med, 2011. 365(21): p. 1959-68.