The 12 Top Diet and Weight-Loss Stories of 2012

  • America is a bit obsessed with diets, exercise, and anything having to do with weight loss, and 2012 was no different. Here’s a look at some of the biggest diet and weight-loss stories of 2012.

  • Sitting will kill you
  • People who spend 11 hours or more a day sitting are 40% more likely to die during a three-year period, according to a study published in March. Not only does sitting too much raise your risk for obesity, but this year it was also linked to kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, and dangerous fat around the heart. The favorite suggestion for this problem? Take frequent breaks during the work day or invest in a standing desk (or even a treadmill desk!).

  • Social media can make you fat … but your phone can make you thin
  • In September, Irish researchers reported that the more time people spend on Facebook and Twitter, the more likely they are to gain weight; days later, a study from the University of Southern California added Pinterest (and looking at food pictures, specifically) to the list. But the news isn’t all bad for technology: With so many health and fitness apps available for mobile devices, your phone has the potential to also help you lose!

  • TV news anchor blasts viewer who criticized her weight
  • A local Wisconsin news anchor made national headlines in October when she responded, on air, to a viewer who had written her a letter criticizing her weight. “You don't know me,” she told the TV cameras. “So you know nothing about me but what you see on the outside, and I am much more than a number on a scale.”

  • “Thinspo” and “Fitspo” images spark controversy
  • With the explosion of visual-centric social media sites “thinspiration” photos–“thinspo,” for short–have sparked a backlash that got them banned from Pinterest in March. “Fitspo” images depicting healthier and “fit” (but definitely still thin) women remain, however, and not everyone is sure they’re much better.

  • Celebs scrutinized for their weight
  • Matthew McConaughey and Northern Irish actress Antonia Campbell-Hughes made headlines this year by slimming down dramatically for movie roles, sparking the question “How skinny is too skinny?” Meanwhile, Lady Gaga fired back at criticism she received for actually gaining a few pounds, and Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence stated in an interview that by Hollywood standards, she’s obese. In other words, Tinsel Town is as crazy as ever!

  • Jessica Simpson’s post-baby weight loss
  • After gaining 70 pounds while pregnant with her first daughter and then signing a contract with Weight Watchers, Simpson revealed her post-baby body in late 2012. The star reportedly started her diet with a five day liquid smoothie cleanse, but then moved on to a more sensible plan consisting of low-fat, low-calorie, and fiber-packed meal choices. We're guessing we'll hear more about this particular weight-loss story in 2013, since Simpson recently confirmed that she is pregnant with her second child.

  • CrossFit, CrossFit, CrossFit!
  • Many people seeking new and exciting ways to slim down this year turned to CrossFit, a fitness brand operating out of thousands of gyms across the country. CrossFit classes consist of “Workouts of the Day” (WODs), which typically combines short cardio bursts interspersed with weight lifting or resistance training exercises. Devotees credit the sport’s success to its camaraderie, fast results, and annual CrossFit games, held in July.

  • Olympic diets
  • Aside from who which country would bring home the most golds, the question on everyone’s minds during the 2012 Summer Games was simple: “What do those Olympians eat?!” “Michael Phelps diet” was the most commonly Googled diet phrase in 2012, the search engine reported (he reportedly downed 12,000 calories a day), while we reported on track star Allyson Felix’s power breakfasts and swimmer Natalie Coughlin’s favorite foods.

  • NYC bans sugary drinks
  • In September, the New York City Board of Health voted to restrict the sale of restaurant sodas larger than 16 ounces, becoming the first city in the country to institute a “soda ban.” This comes five years after NYC also banned trans fats in restaurants, which–according to a study released in July–has significantly lowered consumption of the harmful ingredient.

  • Paula Deen has diabetes
  • This one gets the award for least surprising news of 2012: In January, celebrity chef Paula Deen confirmed rumors that she had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Deen, who favors high-fat, high-calorie Southern cooking, vowed to keep eating her traditional dishes, in moderation, of course.

  • Two new weight-loss drugs approved
  • After 13 years without a new weight-loss drug on the market, not one but two medications were approved this summer to help fight America’s growing obesity epidemic. However, FDA officials cautioned that the two new drugs, Qysmia and Belviq, should not be used without also making healthy lifestyle changes as well.

Sweets for breakfast can help you lose
Good news for dessert lovers! A study presented in June found that a high-carb, protein-packed breakfast–that includes a sweet treat at the end–helps dieters curb cravings throughout the day and maintain weight loss.