My commitment to not eating animals, however, was faltering. I’d wake up and declare, “I’m a vegetarian today!” but it was sort of hard to keep the resolution. I’d sit with a friend and she’d order a steak and I’d say, “Umm . . . are you going to finish that?” and take a bite. “But I thought you were a vegetarian!” she would remind me, and I’d counter with, “But you can’t eat all that. I don’t want it to go to waste!” I’d use any excuse.
Weight-loss programs often accentuate the difference. When sedentary men and women both start exercise programs, men tend to lose body fat, while many women don’t. In one study out of England, men and women were each put on commercial weight-loss programs such as Atkins, Slim-Fast and Weight Watchers. Two months in, the men had lost twice as much weight as the women -- and three times as much body fat. But by six months, the rate of weight loss had evened out between the genders.
Over the past few years it has become clear that weight is an important health issue. Some people who need to lose weight for their health don't recognize it, while others who don't need to lose weight want to get thinner for cosmetic reasons. We understand that in some ways your weight is different from, for example, your cholesterol level or your blood pressure, because you can't see what these are by looking at someone. Many patients have had health care providers who approached their weight in a less-than-sensitive or helpful manner. Some patients may have had health care encounters in which they felt blamed, but not helped. Successful weight management is a long-term challenge.