Yet, a recent Johns Hopkins study suggests that 86% of Americans could be overweight by 2030.
So why aren't these fads working for more people?
It seems losing weight isn't always enough motivation. Instead, many people place more emphasis on instant gratifications, such as the enjoyment of eating.
A new study conducted by Carnegie Mellon Professor George Loewenstein and University of Pennsylvania Professor Kevin Volpp introduced another kind of instant gratification into their weight loss program -- money. The study found that dieters lost more weight when cash incentives were part of the plan.
The study placed adult dieters into three groups:
- Dieters who entered a daily lottery, but only won money if they reached their target weight levels;
- Dieters who invested their own money, but lost it if they didn't meet their goals; and
- Dieters with no monetary incentive at all.
The mean weight loss for both incentive groups was more than 13 pounds, with about half of the participants reaching the 16-pound goal. But the mean weight loss for the control group was only 4 pounds.
In addition to losing weight, both incentive groups earned money for their efforts. On average, the lottery group earned $272 and the investment group earned $378.
"The key to successful weight loss, whether you use money rewards or not, is to weigh yourself every day and to have daily weight targets that decrease each day by a tiny amount," said Loewenstein. "If you have a larger weekly target, you'll wait to the end of the week to start dieting seriously, and it's awfully difficult to lose a lot of weight in a single day."
So if you're having trouble counting calories, perhaps you'll have better luck counting dollars instead.