Trim down in 2012

Many people resolve to lose pounds in New Year

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There’s a reason you’re seeing a lot more Weight Watchers commercials on television.

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Gold's Gym members Amber Robinson (from right), Lori Bales and Carol McAnly exercise on treadmills.  Chris Thelen/Staff
Chris Thelen/Staff
Gold's Gym members Amber Robinson (from right), Lori Bales and Carol McAnly exercise on treadmills.

It’s the time of year when people are making New Year’s resolutions, and losing weight is often at the top of the list.

According to the latest data from Tampa, Fla.-based Marketdata Enterprises Inc., the weight-loss and diet-control market was a $60.9 billion industry in 2010. For 2011, Marketdata Enterprises is estimating 2 percent growth for the industry, research director John LaRosa said.

That includes spending on diet soft drinks, artificial sweeteners, health clubs, commercial weight-loss centers, low-calorie and diet foods, retail diet pills and meal replacements, bariatric surgery, prescription diet drugs, and diet books and exercise videos, LaRosa said.

“We’ve got the highest percent of do-it-yourself dieters that we’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

America has an estimated 75 million dieters, with 80 percent of them trying to lose weight by themselves, shifting from fad to fad.

The industry has doubled since 1989, when consumers were spending only about $30 billion a year on weight loss, LaRosa said.

January is a peak time for the health and fitness industry because of New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get back into shape, said Allen Childs, the marketing director at Gold’s Gym.

It’s the busiest time of year, followed by the pre-bathing suit and back-to-school seasons, he said.

With the constant advertisements and so many choices on the market, consumers will be challenged to guard their wallets.

“The thing that consumers always need to be on the watch for are the mail-order and Internet diet products and programs that are sold by literally thousands of diet Web sites and small fly-by-night companies out there,” LaRosa said.

Those companies sell products such as diet pills and dietary supplements that don’t help to lose weight but have dangerous side effects such as increasing the heart rate.

Some products make promises of quick weight loss, such as a pound a day.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is,” LaRosa said. “In some cases, you’re just going to lose your money, but people are willing to do that because they’re always looking for the quick fix and the next magic pill, which really doesn’t exist.”

If consumers stick with major programs, such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and Medifast, they will be all right because those programs are based on safe amounts of weight loss, usually one to two pounds a week.

They also have some science and supervision behind them, he said.

“As in anything else, it’s buyer beware. Do your homework,” LaRosa said. “Make sure you know the true and full costs of a program. A lot of programs will bait you in with a low price … and then when you get into the weight loss center, you found out that you have to buy company supplements or company brand food, and that’s when the money starts to add up.”

WEIGHT-LOSS TIPS

To lose weight and keep it off, people should exercise and change their eating habits with sensible food choices, said Allen Childs, the marketing director at Gold’s Gym.

EXERCISE:

• To stay motivated in the gym, get a personal trainer to hold you accountable. Most health clubs offer affordable access to personal trainers.

• Participate in regular, aerobic exercise and increase lifestyle activity by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking down the hall to talk to a co-worker rather than e-mailing or calling, and parking farther away in the lot.

FOOD:

Focus on an overall, healthful diet that is sustainable over the long term, said Emily Van Walleghen, a bariatric program dietitian at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

• Incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products into your diet. Stay away from refined, processed foods.

• Monitor your food portion sizes. A typical portion in a restaurant is two or three meals’ worth of food. To learn about proper portion sizes, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

• Keep tempting foods, such as cookies, out of the house.

• Keep a food diary to monitor your eating behavior, writing down the foods you’re eating and calculating calories.

• Research nutritional and caloric information on foods on Web sites for chain and fast-food restaurants.

• Don’t try diet fads or magic pills. The results fade when you stop using them.

• Consume sufficient calories. Gold’s Gym recommends for people to eat 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day. When people use diets with low-caloric intakes (such as 800 calories a day) and eventually get off the diet, they’re going to gain more weight than when they started, professionals say.

TEAM LEAN

The Family Y’s fifth annual Team Lean weight-loss program starts Jan. 9. The 12-week program draws 1,400 to 1,600 participants each year. Participants must be 14 or older to participate. Minors must have a parent participating in the program with them.

Individuals and teams will compete for money, and there are categories for churches, schools and corporations. The cost to enter and compete for the cash prize is $50 for Family Y members and $70 for nonmembers.

The winner is determined by the percentage of weight lost.

Starting Jan. 16, the program will offer weekly weight-loss and fitness seminars, which are free and open to the public.

Participation in Team Lean is not required to attend the classes.

MONDAYS: Doctors Hospital, 5:30- 6:30 p.m.

TUESDAYS: Warren Baptist Church, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAYS: Aiken Regional Medical Centers, noon

THURSDAYS: Richmond County Board of Education, noon

Source: Millie Schumacher, community relations director at Family Y


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