Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Research about dieting never changes...

Every few weeks, I get together with some friends who are also interested in fat acceptance and HAES and we discuss a relevant journal paper. The first paper we discussed was a meta-analysis of dieting studies. It's a good paper, published in 2007, in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. It reviews what we all know: all diets work pretty well at first, then you gain the weight back. In the end, after a year or two, dieters in studies end up about 5 kg lower than they started. Given that this doesn't include the 1/3 to 1/2 of the people that drop out, and also given that initial weights tend to be inflated as people binge before their initial weigh-in, and given that this isn't nearly enough to make any fat person thin ... those 5 kg are pretty meaningless.

Still, this month's Journal of the American Medical Association published a paper called Comparison of Strategies for Sustaining Weight Loss. This study has -- I counted them -- 27 authors! It's published in a top medical journal! It involves over 1500 participants! And can you guess what it showed? Yup, they all lost weight at first, and then regained to end up about 5 kg below where they started.

I really don't get it. Why do they bother? Why does this stuff keep getting published? (And in major journals!) It's all the same.


Anonymous said...

My boss was very excited about this study. I was, predictably, less so :)

chartreuse said...

LOL. Yeah, and all of the reporting about this looked like "New Study Proves that Counselling Keeps the Pounds Off!" .. I always wonder if anybody actually reads the papers.

vesta44 said...

I don't think they read the papers, they just read the press releases, which give the spin that whoever funded the studies wants, not the actual results. But those results don't mesh with what they "know" so obviously, the results are wrong, in their minds anyway.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say I found your blog via the fatosphere group and I think it's awesome. I'm going to add you to my blog roll because this is defintely interesting and important stuff! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

A very interesting new blog!! How challenging to be in your position. But stick with it!! We need more HAES-friendly practitioners out there.

I will be very interested to continue reading your take on the research and on what you are being told in med school.


Anonymous said...

Chartreuse, we really should chat. ;) Together we could be unstoppable in our clinical years!

Phledge (do10-aclark at tunv dot org)

Stacy Bias said...

I apologize for leaving this here as a comment, but I was unable to find an email address for you. Please feel free to delete this. :)

Hi there -

I wanted to let you know, in hopes that you might let your audience know, that I've recently launched a new project that I'm very excited about!

The new project is called "The Fat Experience Project." and you can view it here:


The goal of the Fat Experience Project is to map the global experience of fat in a way that is human, has a face, a heart, a mind, a body and a voice. The Fat Experience Project is an oral, visual and written history project which seeks to be a humanizing force in body image activism. By collecting and sharing the many and varied stories of individuals of size, the Fat Experience Project seeks to engage with, educate, empower and enrich the lives of people of size, our allies and the world at large.

As the project grows, it will be filled with first-person, non-fiction narratives (in text, video or mp3 format) that speak to the many and varied aspects of the life lived large. Some of the content will come from interviews already gathered on an extensive 2-month road trip (with the lovely Val Garrison) in both audio and video format. Some content will come from trips on the horizon. Most content will be submitted via the website by readers such as yourself.

It is my hope that the project will be a community tool to combat prejudice/stereotype/discrimination as well as to help externalize shame so it can discussed and dissipated. The things we keep silent about are the things that do us the most harm. Shared burden is lighter. I am hoping, as well, that the project may eventually be used as a humanizing resource for fat studies and social anthropology courses.

I am writing to ask for your help in both the promotion of and the participation in this project. It is my fondest hope that, ultimately, with time and resources, this project will grow beyond a specific and exclusive fat focus and move toward addressing the many intersections of shame.

In the meantime, I would love your help in the form of passing this along to your readers/mailing lists/friends/family/anyone you feel may benefit from hearing about this project.

I also welcome comments, constructive criticism and volunteers.

Thanks for your time and energy!
Big BIG love,

Stacy Bias

Anonymous said...

I saw your blog on the fatosphere feed too. Another paper with very similar results is "Medicare’s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer". What's interesting about it is that it evaluates the effectiveness of diets with an eye towards whether Medicare should cover them, and find that diets are not effective treatment and should not be covered.

It's at http://mann.bol.ucla.edu/files/Diets_don't_work.pdf

wriggles said...

I really don't get it. Why do they bother? Why does this stuff keep getting published? (And in major journals!) It's all the same.

Just had to give my answer to this astute question, although you've probably answered it.

Unless they accept the true efficacy (or lack) of dieting, they've got nowhere else to go but round and round in a circle.