The emperor's tailors: the failure of the medical weight loss paradigm and its causal role in the obesity of America

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2009 Jun;11(6):557-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2009.01019.x.


During the past century, the medical profession has developed a paradigm for the treatment of obesity, which prescribes specific exercise and dietary goals under the umbrella of 'lifestyle change'. It has three components, all of which evolved from origins that had nothing to do with weight control. First, it is individually prescriptive, that is weight loss is considered the responsibility of the individual as contrasted to a societal or group responsibility. Second, it recommends exercise aimed towards structured, or non-functional, activities with a variety of physiological endpoints. Last, dietary goals are defined by calories, exchanges, food groups and various nutritional components. Diets are usually grouped by these goals. This model is unique to America, it is not working and it has also played a causal role in the obesity it is attempting to eliminate. A new model must be developed, which contains an observationally based societal prescription and links activity with functional outcomes and diets, which are food rather than nutritionally based.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diet
  • Dietetics
  • Exercise
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Social Environment
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Weight Loss*