Diets and programs that promise to help you lose weight are advertised everywhere—through magazines and newspapers, radio, TV, and websites. Are these programs safe? Will they work for you?
This fact sheet provides tips on how to identify a weight-loss program that may help you lose weight safely and keep the weight off over time. It also suggests ways to talk to your health care provider about your weight.
He or she may be able to help you control your weight by making changes to your physical activity and eating habits. If these changes are not enough, you may want to consider a weight-loss program or other types of treatment.
Questions to Ask Your Health Care Provider About your weight
- What is a healthy weight for me?
- Do I need to lose weight?
- How much weight should I lose?
- Could my extra weight be caused by a health problem or by a medicine I am taking?
About ways to lose weight
- What kind of eating habits may help me control my weight?
- How much physical activity do I need?
- How can I exercise safely?
- Could a weight-loss program help me?
- Should I take weight-loss drugs?
- Is weight-loss surgery right for me?
Successful, long-term weight control must focus on your overall health, not just on what you eat. Changing your lifestyle is not easy, but adopting healthy habits may help you manage your weight in the long run.
Effective weight-loss programs include ways to keep the weight off for good. These programs promote healthy behaviors that help you lose weight and that you can stick with every day.
Safe and effective weight-loss programs should include:
- A plan to keep the weight off over the long run
- Guidance on how to develop healthier eating and physical activity habits
- Ongoing feedback, monitoring, and support
- Slow and steady weight-loss goals—usually ½ to 2 pounds per week (though weight loss may be faster at the start of a program)
Some weight-loss programs may use very low-calorie diets (up to 800 calories per day) to promote rapid weight loss among people who have a lot of excess weight.
In choosing a weight-loss program, watch out for these false claims:
- Lose weight without diet or exercise!
- Lose weight while eating all of your favorite foods!
- Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!
- Lose weight in specific problem areas of your body!
If a weight-loss program is not a good option for you, ask your health care provider about other types of treatment. Prescription drugs, combined with lifestyle changes, may help some people lose weight. For some people who have obesity, bariatric surgery on the stomach and/or intestines may be an option.