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To lose weight, the rules are the same for kids and adults.
To lose weight, the rules are the same for kids and adults. / Katrina Wittkamp/Getty Images

Too many Americans weigh way too much. According to a recent projection, 42% of people in the U.S. will be obese by 2030 (up from 36% in 2010), and 11% could be severely obese, about 100 or more pounds overweight. But some common beliefs about obesity may not be entirely accurate. Here, we dispel three myths:

MYTH: You need to lose a lot to improve health.

Shedding as little as 5 pounds can help reduce cholesterol levels; dropping 10 will likely lower your blood pressure. Evidence shows losing 5% to 7% of your weight through diet and exercise could delay and possibly prevent diabetes. Aim to shed 1 to 2 pounds per week — slow and steady is the safest and most effective way to drop weight and keep it off.

MYTH: Overweight kids will 'grow into' their weight.

Not all kids carrying extra pounds are obese — some have larger body frames, others may carry a little more weight at different stages of development. But you shouldn’t wait for a growth spurt to compensate. Depending on your child’s eating habits and activity level, he is just as likely to keep putting on weight as he grows. Researchers looked at how obese kids fared on three diets: a low-carb version, one that focused on low-glycemic foods (fruit, whole grains, poultry), and a third about portion control and balancing nutrients. The results showed kids lost weight on all three diets but had the easiest time with the low glycemic diet.

MYTH: If obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin. But you can get diabetes even if you are at a normal weight, particularly if you’re apple-shaped. People who accumulate fat in their middles are at a greater risk of type 2 than those who store it in their hips and thighs.

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