Acai Superfood Diet: What You Need to Know

While the acai berry certainly has superfood status, its reputation as a weight-loss aid is under dispute. What do you think of these little purple berries? See more weight loss tips pictures.

It's no secret -- Americans have a weight problem.

More than 190 million Americans are overweight (a BMI of 25 or greater), obese (a BMI of 30 or greater) or morbidly obese (a BMI of 35 or greater) -- in total, about two-thirds of the U.S. population weighs too much [source: Doane]. It's probably not surprising, then, that two-thirds of Americans admit they'd like to lose weight. While most would like to lose about 10 pounds, some -- about 30 percent of women and 18 percent of men -- would like to cut more than 20 pounds to be satisfied with the number on the scale [source: Newport].

Obesity is more than just a number on a scale, though, or your clothing size. It's a chronic health problem that's been linked to a variety of health conditions and diseases, including but not limited to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension (high blood pressure), respiratory conditions, joint problems, liver and gallbladder disease, infertility and some cancers. And people who are morbidly obese frequently have more than one of these conditions -- in fact, in 2002, 25 percent of the morbidly obese population were treated for six or more weight-related conditions [source: Obesity Action Coalition]. Every year, roughly 112,000 Americans die from an obesity-related cause [source: Obesity Action Coalition]

Beyond the health costs of obesity, the associated financial costs are staggering. Obesity and related illnesses cost us $147 billion each year in medical costs. In 2007, Americans spent an estimated $75 billion on, specifically, weight-related health costs -- that's risen by $23 billion since 1995 [sources: Reinberg; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]. Additionally, in 2009, Americans spent an estimated $60 billion on diet and diet-related products in an effort to lose weight [source: CBS News]. In the midst of the medical treatments and diet pills, you're probably wondering where the emphasis on nutrition is? Where is the emphasis on exercise? Are we looking for a magic pill? While there's no magic weight-loss pill, there are what have become known as superfoods.

Superfoods are foods that are thought to reduce our risk of developing heart disease, high total cholesterol and some cancers. And maybe even boost our mood while they're at it. The Acai Superfood Diet, specifically, focuses on one superfood, the acai (pronounced "ah-sigh-ee") berry from acai palm trees in Central and South America. Let's learn more about what superfoods can do for us, and how the Acai Superfood Diet works, next.