Tuesday, 29 September 2020

How A PhD Got Duped By Diet Culture

An article came across my inbox called “The Habits of Successful Weight Losers.” It piqued my interest because the truth is there isn’t a single study where more than a tiny fraction of people succeed at long-term, significant weight loss (this has been shown in literature reviews starting in at least 1999 and was recently acknowledged by Canadian Healthcare professionals. (Note: The article is not linked here due its potentially triggering nature, it’s also one of many of it kind so the points made here address this mistake generally.)

I clicked to read the article, curious if it would make the most common mistake of only looking at short-term weight loss (most people succeed at losing weight short term, but gain it all back within two to five years, a huge number of studies simply look at weight loss during the first year and then claim success) or if it would make the less common, but potentially more harmful National Weight Control Registry mistake.

It turns out that it was the latter. I often use the National Weight Control Registry in talks I give to general audiences, health professionals, and university students, faculty and staff to show how easy it is to be duped by diet culture and the poor “science” that backs it up. In this case the person making this mistake is a celebrated personal trainer, fitness speaker and writer, and PhD who has actually written a book written on this premise, so it’s no surprise that so many people with less training in understanding and analyzing research do make the same mistake.

I wrote about this for The Mighty, and you can read the full piece here!

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