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Weighing the Options: Criteria for Evaluating Weight-Management Programs
The diet should be safe and include all of the Recommended Dietary Allowances for vitamins, minerals, and protein.
The program should be directed towards a slow, steady weight loss unless a more rapid weight loss is medically indicated.
A doctor should evaluate health status if the client's weight-loss goal is greater than 15–20 pounds, if the client has any health problems, or if the client takes medication on a regular basis.
The program should include plans for weight maintenance.
The program should give the prospective client a detailed list of fees and costs of additional items.
In this country, where successful weight management has proven an elusive goal for most obese individuals, the marketplace has provided many legitimate, as well as unfounded, products and services. The latter play legal tag with governmental regulatory agencies while taking financial advantage of a public desperate for answers. Improving the rate of success of weight management requires that would-be dieters understand that methods from thigh creams to esoteric diets must be substantiated by validated evidence of efficacy. They may represent no more than small countermeasures to an incompletely understood disorder of energy balance. In addition, obese individuals must learn to stay away from programs that give false hopes by suggesting that, compared to the programs of legitimate competitors, they are more effective at weight loss and that their unique methods ensure permanent loss. For its part, the scientific community must continue research that will provide us with a fundamental understanding of the basic causes of obesity; this understanding is essential if we are to design maximally effective obesity treatments and develop the means for preventing the disease.