Exercise Vs. Diet: The Truth About Weight Loss | HuffPost

For many people, losing weight means committing to a different lifestyle — one that in large part is not supported by the dietary options made available to us.

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"If someone is using food as escapism or as comfort from emotional trauma, you have to deal with that," says , a registered dietitian and the cofounder of . "That takes time and that takes a very qualified professional to help you get to the bottom of that. That has nothing to do with weight loss tips or Bob Harper telling you to run an extra mile."

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But Weight Watchers was still a company called Weight Watchers, and it had to figure out a way to communicate all of this change to the public. People had too many associations with the brand. It needed someone other than the usual celebrity spokesdieter, a fat famous person who could be paid somewhere between $250,000 and $2 million to do the talk show circuit and People covers for a year. It needed someone who could fast-track the message that it was worth taking a new look at Weight Watchers.

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ames Chambers was watching membership sign-ups on Jan. 4, 2015, like a stock ticker — it was that first Sunday of the year, the day we all decide that this is it, we’re not going to stay fat for one more day. At the time, he was Weight Watchers’ chief executive, and he sat watching, waiting for the line on the graph to begin its skyward trajectory. Chambers knew consumer sentiment had been changing — the company was in its fourth year of member-recruitment decline. But they also had a new marketing campaign to help reverse the generally dismal trend. But the weekend came and went, and the people never showed up. More than two-thirds of Americans were what public-health officials called overweight or obese, and this was the oldest and most trusted diet company in the world. Where were the people? Weight Watchers was at a loss.

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But the verbal changes around dieting had indicated something deeper than just a marketing issue; they pointed straight back to the fatigue that was hurting Weight Watchers in the first place. So, yes, many people celebrated the new partnership. But others — meaning, anyone who for a majority of their lives had been watching Oprah cycle up and down through different sizes — felt a little confused by the move. What was Oprah, a person whose very brand meant enlightenment and progress, doing on another diet? It was hard not to suspect that she was trapped, like so many of us are, in a culture that says one thing about fatness and means something very different.

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The change had been spurred not just by dieting fatigue but also by real questions about dieting’s long-term efficacy. In Weight Watchers’ own research, the average weight loss in any behavior-modification program is about a 5 percent reduction of body weight after six months, with a return of a third of the weight lost at two years. There were studies that appeared to indicate that the cycle of weight loss and weight gain could cause long-term damage to the metabolism. Those studies led to more studies, which suggested that once your body reaches a certain weight, it is nearly impossible to exist at a much lower weight for an extended period of time. Even more studies began to question whether or not it’s so bad to be fat in the first place; one notably suggested that fatter people lived longer than thin ones.