Miracle weight loss measures have no long-term success


By Julie Garden-Robinson | North Dakota State University Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist

“Hi, this is your grandson,” the caller said to a friend of mine.

“Oh, is this my grandson Sam?” she asked.

“Yeah, yeah, this is Sam!” he responded.

“Well, I don’t have a grandson named Sam,” she told the caller before hanging up.

My friend is one clever woman.

“We had someone call and say she was our granddaughter,” another person said.

He doesn’t have a granddaughter. These scam callers are looking for prey.

Scams are all around us. The scammers may approach us by phone, email, text or online. If you “bite,” often they can affect your finances. Sometimes scams can affect your health.

At the start of a new year, diet promotions beckon us from many directions. Some diets promise rapid-fire weight loss through pills, teas, patches and exercise devices. Some programs promise weight loss in specific areas of your body. Others promise weight loss without effort, with fat melting from your body.

Yes, obesity remains a medical concern in the U.S., affecting an estimated 93 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Carrying excess weight can increase our risk for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain types of cancer.

However, miracle weight loss measures have no long-term success. In fact, if you see false claims, you can report scams to the Federal Trade Commission.

According to the National Institutes of Health, safe and successful weight-loss programs should include several factors. If you are contemplating paring some pounds in the new year, first see a health-care provider to discuss medical issues, medications, your current body mass index and a weight that is healthy for you.

Short-term fixes usually don’t stick. In fact, the typical “gold standard” for weight loss is 14 sessions led by a trained professional during the course of at least six months.

Ask yourself these questions if you are considering a weight-loss plan:

  • Does the plan include behavioral treatment, also called lifestyle counseling, which can teach you how to develop more healthful eating and physical activity habits? Many programs have you keep food and activity records or journals.
  • Does the program provide information about getting enough sleep and managing stress?
  • Does the program offer feedback, monitoring and support in person, by phone, online or through a combination of these approaches?
  • Is the rate of intended weight loss slow and steady? In general, a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week is more likely to be maintained.

We have two updated resources to promote health among men and women. Check out our two websites, “Healthwise for Guys” and “Healthwise for Women,” which provide resources and links to promote good health and a healthy weight. Visit https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food for links to both sites.

If you get a “phishing” call, don’t bite. If you are looking for diets that promote good health, consider the DASH diet, short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and the Mediterranean Diet. Both are among the top-rated health-promoting diets, not necessarily weight-loss diets.

Both of these diets promote eating more vegetables, among many other things. Most of us fall short of eating enough vegetables, which are naturally low in calories.

Here’s a tasty recipe featuring potassium-rich potatoes. No, potatoes aren’t fattening, but be careful about loading them with high-calorie toppings or deep-frying them. A medium-sized potato including the peel has about 110 calories, plus fiber, vitamin C and other nutrients. Try roasting potatoes with another nutrition powerhouse, sweet potatoes, for a flavorful, satisfying side dish with your favorite protein food.

Roasted Parmesan Garlic Potatoes


  • 2 large red potatoes
  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley leaves, chopped


Preheat the oven to 425 F. Wash and slice potatoes and onion into 1/4-inch slices. In a round pie plate, line the potatoes and onion alternately. Try to match the size of potatoes and onions when arranging them in the pie plate. In a bowl, combine melted butter, olive oil, herbs, salt, pepper, Parmesan and minced garlic. Drizzle the mixture over the potato and onion round, brushing the herbs and Parmesan over the top. Place in the oven for one hour or until fork tender with crispy edges. Serve warm with a little fresh parsley and a dash of Parmesan.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 160 calories, 7 grams (g) fat, 3 g protein, 21 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 120 milligrams sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson)


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