Canadian obesity doc/researcher/professor Dr. Arya Sharma has the results of a new meta-analysis of 37 RCTs looking at behavioral interventions and weight loss. The result? Not exactly promising … ~5 pounds weight lost over 12 months.
On calorie counting:
[T]here is enough evidence in the literature to show that most “successful” dieters develop a somewhat obsessive relationship to accounting for every bite they put in their mouths – measuring, counting, adding, journaling, avoiding and restricting become part of their daily routine. For some it becomes so automatic a behaviour, that they are no longer even conscious of doing it (nor do many stop to realise just how “abnormal” such a behaviour actual is).
If this helps them better manage their weight – good for them. As a strategy for the population – or in other words when measured in terms of “effectiveness” – such an approach is bound to fail. This is because most people are simply not going to live their lives that way (and who can blame them?).
On behavioral interventions and weight loss (emphasis mine):
This is not to say that behavioural interventions in obese individuals (including physical activity) are not beneficial – they are, just not for weight loss.
As I have said before (and restate every time I get a chance) – improving health behaviours can certainly lead to a healthier you – whether that you is leaner or not is an entirely different (and less important?) question.
It turns out that getting your cortex to run your hypothalamus is far more difficult that you may think.
While I’m not sure I’m on board with all of Dr. Sharma’s approaches to obesity (he’s not opposed to interventions like weight loss surgery or prescription drugs), I think the point about looking at this at a population level is important. Not everyone is ready or able to do a VLF or VLC diet and/or avoid grains or dairy or meat and/or turn into Michael Pollan and start cooking every meal and/or do weight loss surgery.
IMO, that’s what makes it a cultural or societal issue.
Posted in Research, Weight loss | 8 Comments »
From yesterday’s Facebook feed
Valerie had an interesting question in the comments from Wednesday’s post. I started to answer it there, but my response got so involved, I decided to bump it up to its own post.
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Posted in Obesity, Psychology, Weight loss | 27 Comments »
Many moons ago, I blogged author/pastor Steven Furtick’s perception vs reality quote about insecurity:
One reason we struggle w/ insecurity: we’re comparing our behind the scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.
I was reminded of this when I came across this pic/post by Michelle Yeager on my Facebook feed recently:
Yeager’s “behind the scenes” might surprise you:
I feel like if everyone, myself included back when I was this lean, actually shared how we are really feeling deep down instead of just positing [sic] a picture of a body and saying “eat clean, train hard” or something along those lines, people would be a lot better off. … But no one wants to talk about how miserable they might be feeling. I know for me I was trying to put on a happy positive face, but on the inside I was a mess. I had sooo much anxiety around food. Everything I put into my body had to be perfectly measured to the gram and calculated for the day. I couldn’t focus on much other than the next time I got to eat, my workout for the day, and taking selfies.
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Posted in Body acceptance, Weight loss, Weight stigma | 19 Comments »
Thanks to Andy Bellatti for the permission to repost his response to the latest “saturated fat doesn’t raise risk of heart disease” study. His take-aways (emphasis mine):
1. It’s important to keep in mind that this meta-analysis only looked at heart disease. I think saturated fat’s role in heart disease has been exaggerated and misunderstood, but we also can’t forget that most of the foods that are high in saturated fat are problematic for other reasons (i.e.: processed meats increase colorectal cancer risk, most foods high in saturated fat do not contribute fiber, the role that L-carnitine, a compound in red meat, plays in promotion of heart disease, etc.)
2. This study still does not discount the fact that monounsaturated fats (almonds, pecans, olives, avocados) confer many health benefits.
3. As long as we have this dichotomy of “saturated vs. unsaturated” fats, we’ll always have this battle. In reality, we need to start having a “processed vs. unprocessed” fat conversation. “Unsaturated” fats include everything from the fat in avocados (great!) to the fat Doritos are fried in (not good).
4. Too often, these studies end up inaccurately translated as “saturated fat isn’t as harmful as we once thought! Pile on the bacon!” To me, what this study says confirms is what I tell my clients often: “it’s fine if you want to cook your vegetables in a little butter to give them flavor, but the focus should be on eating a hearty amount of vegetables, not drowning three broccoli florets in a ton of butter because butter has been given the supposed green light.”
5. Remember that whole, plant-based foods contain many compounds (minerals, phytonutrients) that are great for heart health.
This is the first time in over 200 QOTD posts that I’ve quoted an entire post! But I thought the whole thing was well worth sharing here … I couldn’t agree with Andy more.
Posted in Nutrition, QOTD, Real food | 2 Comments »
In an article for Bitch, chef/writer Soleil Ho wonders “how can we fetishize the act of eating so much while also making food more inaccessible to the people who need it the most?”
I don’t mean to minimize the important question/concern of food accessibility, but this snippet of Ho’s related to the act of eating (or at least shopping for food) struck me:
Though it can be said that the acrid odor of snake oil marketing has always been a hallmark of American laissez faire capitalism, we’ve entered an age where consumer choice and moralizing have combined to turn grocery shopping into an incredibly neurotic experience. If you want to be cosmopolitan, you’ll buy star anise, kimchi, and coconut oil. If you want to prevent cancer, buy collard greens, blueberries, and omega-3 eggs. If you want to eat food free of pesticides and high fructose corn syrup, buy organic meat, flour, and dairy. Compound all of these seemingly innocuous exercises in American Dreaming with diet fads like “clean” eating, Westernized veganism, or the paleo diet, and you’ll get a supermarket full of people staring at labels, searching the copy for proof of ideological and medical purity. I need to buy this if I want to be good, if I really want to take care of myself and my family. As it turns out, this moralistic way of framing choice is extremely profitable for food processors, restaurants, and produce retailers: we’ve been effectively held captive by our own consciences.
As this #Breaking Black post on “food gentrification” suggests, there “are no easy answers, but we have to start asking the questions before food becomes a privilege instead of a necessity.”
And while we’re at it, perhaps we should look more at if/how much this “fetishization” of eating leads to analysis paralysis and “what the hell” decisions around folks’ diets.
Posted in Public health, Real food | 4 Comments »
Saw this on a friend’s Facebook feed this AM and the last part about self-esteem being an act of revolution resonated. I Google’d and it turns out there’s more to the quote. Here’s another snippet I liked:
You know when you look in the mirror and you think ‘oh, I’m so fat, I’m so old, I’m so ugly’, don’t you know, that’s not your authentic self? But that is billions upon billions of dollars of advertising, magazines, movies, billboards, all geared to make you feel shitty about yourself so that you will take your hard earned money and spend it at the mall on some turn-around creme that doesn’t turn around shit.
But while the short quote in graphic form works great in a Facebook feed, another part left out highlights what Cho really meant about self-esteem in this culture being an act of revolution:
When you don’t have self-esteem you will hesitate before you do anything in your life. You will hesitate to go for the job you really wanna go for, you will hesitate to ask for a raise, you will hesitate to call yourself an American, you will hesitate to report a rape, you will hesitate to defend yourself when you are discriminated against because of your race, your sexuality, your size, your gender. You will hesitate to vote, you will hesitate to dream. For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution and our revolution is long overdue.
Posted in Body acceptance, QOTD, Weight stigma | 1 Comment »