What About Diets, Exercise and Drugs?

For many people, they just don't work. You might have tried every diet possible. Maybe they helped you lose a few pounds; maybe they helped you lose many pounds; eventually, though, you gained the weight back after each diet. Often, you gained a little more back. Or, maybe the diets never worked for you. You're not alone.

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Diets and Exercise Don't Work

How much do diets help?

  • Strict dieters can expect to lose about 22 pounds (9.9 kilograms) in the first year
  • Those who diet and exercise can lose about 29 pounds (13 kg)1
  • Longer term, dieters can expect to lose about 6 to 13 pounds (3 to 6 kg)2 or less over two to four years3
  • On average, dieters gain back half of the weight they lost in the first year

Why? Diets and exercise programs are too hard to follow long-term.

  • They may have you cut out certain foods (think about low-carb or no-added-sugar diets) or buy special diet meals or products
  • Continuing an exercise program is hard
  • Slow weight loss can be discouraging
  • Eventually, you go off the diet and back to your old eating habits and weight

What about Weight Loss Drugs?

Weight loss drugs can help you lose about 11 to 22 pounds in 1 to 2 years.4 That's a help, but not much if you have 50 or hundreds of pounds to lose. In addition, weight loss drugs can have serious side effects. The ones on the market now are only approved for use for 12 weeks to 12 months.

Weight Loss Surgery Leads to Greater Weight Loss

Bariatric surgery can help you lose far more weight and help you keep it off for longer than diet, exercise and weight loss drugs. Many patients lose 50 to 100 or more pounds in the first year.5 Go to the Weight Loss with Surgery page for more information on how much weight you can expect to lose. Weight loss after surgery isn't automatic, though. Your success depends on your commitment to the weight loss surgery diet, which is a major lifestyle change.

  1. Curioni CC, Lourenco PM. Long-term weight loss after diet and exercise: a systematic review. International Journal of Obesity, 2005.
  2. Franz MJ, Pronk NP. Weight-loss outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of weight loss clinical trials with a minimum 1-year follow-up. J Am Diet Assoc, 2007;107(10):1755-67.
  3. Douketis JD, Macie C, Thabane L, Williamson DF. Systematic review of long-term weight loss studies in obese adults: clinical significance and applicability to clinical practice. In J Obes, 2005;29(10):1153-67.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.