Weight loss: Dancing beats hoodia

weight loss made fun!

I’m not sure why it’s surprising that celebrities who compete on Dancing with the Stars lose weight, but apparently this is newsworthy.  Professional dancers are thin for a reason – they’re active for hours, all day every day.  If anything, some of them are too thin and prone to eating disorders.  Nevertheless, DWTS is the perfect example of the effect of constant physical activity on weight – exercise works.

Ricki Lake, Kirstie Alley and Nancy Grace are just a few of the more noticeable examples of this effect.  I suspect it’s not just the actual dancing, but all the other changes in daily routine that come with training for this TV show:

  • If you’re dancing, you’re too busy to sit around snacking
  • Exercise can actually kill your appetite
  • Once a person sees some weight loss success, they’re motivated to keep losing
  • It’s likely that some peer pressure for healthier eating or less eating rubs off when you’re hanging around with professional dancers

Here’s a weight loss concept that apparently doesn’t work: hoodia.  Hoodia has been touted for years as an appetite suppressant, based on the observation that natives of South Africa used it for that reason.  Two different pharmaceutical companies have tried to identify and commercialize hoodia, but both gave up.  A study commissioned by Unilever in 2008 was recently published.  In this study, overweight women were given hoodia or a placebo in a  yoghurt drink.  After 2 weeks, both groups of women lost a bit of weight, but the hoodia group didn’t lose any more than the placebo group.  Worse, the hoodia group suffered a range of unpleasant side effects, including nausea and vomiting, and increased blood pressure and heart rate.  No wonder Unilever wasn’t interested in selling hoodia products.

According to Consumer Labs, there are other problems with hoodia, including purity.  CL suggests that there is currently no evidence for effectiveness, appropriate dose or safety.  Consumers should beware, because so-called hoodia weight loss supplements may contain other bioactive substances that can cause side effects like increased blood pressure and sleeplessness.

So if you want to lose weight, dancing could be the way to go.  It sure beats hoodia.  Most dance studios and community rec centers offer classes for all abilities and all styles.  Dancing is fun, it’s not boring, it’s social and people of all ages enjoy it.  And no nasty side effects.  An ideal weight loss aid.

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