Diets don’t work for lasting weight loss. So why do we keep trying them?

In the 1960s, people were all about Metrecal. In the early 2000s, it was South Beach and Atkins. Then came Nutrisystem. Now everyone is going Paleo or trying Whole30.

Americans try an average of five diets in their lifetime. For women, it’s seven. These diets promise you the body you’ve always wanted — fast.

But most of the time, the shakes and powders and pills and meal plans don’t work in the long run. And it’s not just a matter of willpower: There is little to no science backing the latest diet fads.

So why do so many people diet, even when diets overwhelmingly fail?

Vox tackled this question in the fourth episode of our new Netflix show, Explained. We’ll have new episodes every Wednesday on topics ranging from gene editing to the racial wealth gap to cricket and more. If you like our videos, then you’ll love this show; it’s our most ambitious video project to date.

To watch, search “Explained” on Netflix or go to Netflix.com/explained. Click the “My List” button to make sure you don’t miss an episode!

Learn more:

Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies (Julia Belluz and Javier Zarracina, Vox)

Why do dieters succeed or fail? The answers have little to do with food. (Julia Belluz, Vox)

The keto diet, explained (Julia Belluz, Vox)

We’ve long blamed carbs for making us fat. What if that’s wrong? (Julia Belluz, Vox)

Marion Nestle looks back at 30 years of agitating for better food (Lisa Held speaks with Marion Nestle, whom we interviewed for this episode, for Civil Eats)

The Only 4 Diets That Actually Help People to Eat Better and Eat Less (Marion Nestle, the Atlantic)

Low-fat or low-carb? It’s a draw, study finds (A study by Stanford University professor Christopher Gardner, whom we also interviewed for this episode)

The Weight-Loss Trap: Why Your Diet Isn’t Working (Alexandra Sifferlin interviewed the NIH’s Kevin Hall, whom we also interviewed for this episode, for this Time magazine piece)

The story of America, as told through diet books (by Adrienne Rose Bitar, whom we also interviewed for this episode)

Q&A: David Vigil of East New York Farms (Phillip Pantuso writes about East New York Farms — we spoke with their youth director, Kevin Hines — for BKLYNR)

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