Why the Answer to Losing Weight is Different for Everyone

New research shows that weight loss success depends on many different factors


When it comes to losing weight, there’s no such thing as a quick fix and there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all solution.

We talk about this a lot here at The Active Times, but it in a world hell bent on ridiculous claims like “losing 10 pounds in 10 days” and the latest and greatest “miracle” products, it sort of seems like it’s always worth pointing out.

And it’s especially worth mentioning when new research helps to support the point.

A recent study from the University of Sheffield in England published in the Journal of Public Health, which sought to examine subgroups within the country’s obese population, found that obese people are typically treated the same regardless of varying factors like how healthy they are, where they live or habitual behaviors.

However, through an analysis of data from the Yorkshire Health Study, which included information about the demographics, health status and behaviors of 4,144 obese individuals, the researchers found that a one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective because the subjects tended to fall into one of six distinct subgroups, all of which benefited from different treatment strategies.

The subgroups included: “heavy drinking males; young healthy females; the affluent and healthy elderly; the physically sick but happy elderly; the unhappy and anxious middle-aged; and individuals with the poorest health.”

“Policies designed to tackle obesity and encourage healthier lifestyles often target individuals just because they are obese,” explained the study’s lead author, Dr. Mark Green of the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research. “But a focus on just the group as a whole is not very efficient. We are all different and different health promotion approaches work for different people. Our research showed that those in the groups that we identified are likely to need very different services, and will respond very differently to different health promotion policies.”

While this study only examined data that included a few thousand obese people, it still helps to explain why people respond differently to different weight loss strategies.

In other words, just because your friend had success by working out at a CrossFit gym and following the Paleo diet doesn’t mean that same approach is necessarily the best for you. (And that’s only one example from an essentially endless list of ways to lose weight.)

In addition to exercising and eating well, weight loss involves a long list of other factors, like getting enough sleep, making exercise convenient, access to certain types of foods, mental health, your personality and the list goes on.

So many things need to be considered when determining a strategy that’s right for you, and it might take a little bit of trial and error before you figure out what works and what doesn’t. But the main thing to remember is that while the broad-spectrum “answer” to weight loss is eating less and exercising more, the best way to accomplish those two things will be different for everyone.

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