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Dieters should be cautious about plans that severely restrict the size of food portions, or that eliminate entire food groups from the diet. It is highly probable that they will become discouraged and drop out of such programs. The best diet is one that can be maintained indefinitely without ill effects, that offers sufficient variety and balance to provide everything needed for good health, and that is considerate of personal food preferences.
Low-fat diets are not recommended for children under the age of two. Young children need extra fat to maintain their active, growing bodies. Fat intake may be gradually reduced between the ages of two and five, after which it should be limited to a maximum of 30% of total calories through adulthood. Saturated fat should be restricted to no more than 10% of total calories.
Weight-loss dieters should be wary of the "yo-yo" effect that occurs when numerous attempts are made to reduce weight using high-risk, quick-fix diets. This continued "cycling" between weight loss and weight gain can slow the basal metabolic rate and can sometimes lead to eating disorders. The dieter may become discouraged and frustrated by this success/failure cycle. The end result of "yo-yo" dieting is that it becomes more difficult to maintain a healthy weight.
Caution should also be exercised about weight-loss diets that require continued purchases of special prepackaged foods. Not only do these tend to be costly and over-processed, they may also prevent dieters from learning the food-selection and preparation skills essential to maintenance of weight loss. Further, dieters should consider whether they want to carry these special foods to work, restaurants, or homes of friends.
Concern has been expressed about weight-loss diet plans that do not include exercise, considered essential to long-term weight management. Some diets and supplements may be inadvisable for patients with special conditions or situations.
Certain fad diets purporting to be official diets of groups such as the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic are in no way endorsed by those institutions. Patients thinking of starting such a diet should check with the institution to ensure its name has not been misappropriated by an unscrupulous practitioner.
Author Info: David Helwig, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 2002
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