On 15 October 2013, the New York Times carried an article on President Taft’s struggle with his corpulence many decades ago. This “massively obese” man pursued weight loss into his old age. But long-term shedding of pounds eluded him. Instead, his ceaseless efforts produced frustration and repeated cycles of loss and regain. Writer Gina Kolata suggests that there are many similarities between Taft’s battles with his obesity and the challenges of weight loss in contemporary societies. A point well made.
The statistics available regarding obese individuals and their battles to lose weight are sobering. Of those who can shed pounds something like 95% gain back the weight that has been lost (and sometimes even more) within five years. Yet countless numbers of individuals are caught up in such doomed struggles. Why?