The least intrusive weight loss methods, and those most often recommended by physicians, are adjustments to eating patterns and increased physical exercise. Usually, health professionals will recommend that their overweight patients combine a reduction of the caloric content of the diet with an increase in physical activity.
Other methods of losing weight include use of drugs and supplements that decrease appetite, block fat absorption, or reduce stomach volume. Surgery is another method. Bariatric surgery artificially reduces the size of the stomach, limiting the intake of food energy. Some of these treatments may have serious side-effects.
A crash diet (also known as "fasting") is where a person willfully restricts themselves of all nourishment (except water) for more than 12 hours. The desired result is to have the body burn fat for energy with the goal of losing a significant amount of weight in a short time. Crash dieting is not the same as flexible intermittent fasting, where dieters fast for 2 days each week and calories are cycled. Generally the weight lost in a crash diet returns when normal eating resumes.
Weight loss industry
In the developed world, there is a substantial market for products which promise to make weight loss easier, quicker, cheaper, more reliable, or less painful. These include books, CDs, cremes, lotions, pills, rings and earrings, body wraps, body belts and other materials, fitness centers, personal coaches, weight loss groups and food products and supplements. US residents in 1992 spent an estimated $30 billion a year on all types of diet programs and products, including diet foods and drinks.
Between $33 billion and $55 billion is spent annually on weight loss products and services, including medical procedures and pharmaceuticals, with weight loss centers garnering between six percent and 12 percent of total annual expenditure. About 70 percent of American's dieting attempts are of a self-help nature. Although often short-lived, these diet fads are a positive trend for this sector as Americans ultimately turn to professionals to help them meet their weight loss goals