Beware of weight-loss promises

Farm Forum

I can tell a new year has arrived. Weight-loss advertisements have been flowing at us from many directions. Maybe you have noticed ads in newspapers, magazines and on TV or billboards. Ads on my Facebook page have clamored for my attention, too.

While at the grocery store, I noticed a magazine cover showcasing slim people holding their much-too-large “old” pants in front of them. One night I was an insomniac and turned on the TV. You guessed it. A celebrity was talking about a diet product. I flipped the station and the next “infomercial” had more body-slimming promises than the last.

Sometimes the weight-loss products catch me by surprise. While looking at blenders in a department store the other day, I saw that the appliance came with a free slim-down supplement to add to a smoothie.

Obviously, diet products are big business, especially since two out of three people are overweight according to national studies. As we know, being overweight is linked with greater risks for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Unfortunately, many weight-loss success stories are short-lived if the dieter has not made a lifestyle change. However, some people are successful at losing weight and keeping it off without any special products.

The National Weight Control Registry has tracked successful weight loss since the mid-1990s. On average, the registry members have lost about 66 pounds and kept it off more than five and a half years.

How did they lose weight? About 98 percent modified their food intake and 94 percent modified their physical activity level.

To sustain their weight loss, most continue to follow a low-calorie diet and they follow some key practices. About 78 percent eat breakfast on a daily basis and 75 percent weigh themselves weekly so they are able to nip weight gain as it occurs.

Nine out of 10 maintain their weight by exercising an hour a day. The fact that they confine their TV viewing to just 10 hours per week probably helps with weight management, too.

Fortunately, many free materials and videos about weight management are available online, but be cautious of the source of the materials. You will encounter as many, if not more, “ads” and misinformation online as you do anywhere.

What if you are not “techie” but you would like to read some of this free information? Chances are you know someone who has Internet access, and most of the materials are printable. Public libraries often have technology available for community members to explore, too.

For example, the Weight-control Information Network at has a wide range of information about weight management. The information at includes an online food-tracking system.

The NDSU Extension Service has a variety of free food and nutrition resources available. Visit to sign up for a free monthly e-newsletter. The January materials feature ways to nourish and exercise your muscles.

For some, the “do-it-yourself” approach is challenging. Some may prefer a weight-management group, while others prefer individual diet counseling.

If you decide to join a program, heed this advice from the Weight Information Network. Safe and effective weight-loss programs include 1) a plan to keep the weight off, 2) provide guidance on how to develop healthier eating and physical activity habits, 3) provide ongoing feedback, monitoring and support, and 4) set slow and steady weight-loss goals of 0.5 to 2 pounds per week.

If you decide you want to see a health professional about weight loss, check his or her credentials. A “nutritionist” does not necessarily have training in nutrition. A registered dietitian has a degree in nutrition, has completed hundreds of internship hours, passed a national registration examination and participates in continuing education. Some have advanced certifications in weight management.

Licensed nutritionists have advanced training in nutrition, and most have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. They also must complete continuing education to maintain their license.

Extension agents/assistants are employed in many communities throughout North Dakota. All have had training in nutrition. Some are dietitians or licensed nutritionists, and many offer classes in food preparation and nutrition.

As we begin a new year, start your day out right. Here’s a tasty recipe courtesy of the Iowa State University Spend Smart Eat Smart program that will make having breakfast a snap. Protein-containing breakfast meals help prevent overeating later in the day.

Make-ahead Breakfast Burritos

1 c. diced potatoes (1 medium potato)

1/2 c. diced onions (1/2 medium onion)

1 c. diced bell peppers (1 medium pepper)

8 beaten eggs

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 c. shredded 2 percent reduced fat cheddar cheese

8 flour tortillas (8 inch)

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Cook the potatoes for 6 to 10 minutes over medium heat. Add onions and peppers to the potatoes. Cook for three to four minutes until the potatoes are browned. Add beaten eggs to the vegetable mixture. Cook for four to five minutes over medium heat. Stir off and on until there is no liquid. Stir in the garlic powder and pepper. Roll each burrito. Use 2 tablespoons of cheese and 1/2 cup of the egg mixture for each burrito. Serve or freeze. To freeze the burritos, wrap each burrito tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Seal wrapped burritos in a freezer bag when they are frozen. To reheat the frozen burritos, remove the plastic wrap. Wrap burrito in a damp paper towel. Set microwave on medium power. Heat the burrito for three to four minutes.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 270 calories, 9 grams (g) of fat, 31 g of carbohydrate, 14 g of protein, 2 g of fiber and 500 milligrams of sodium.