Yes, this probably belongs in a different forum.
I follow Megan McArdle, actually, and generally learn a lot from her. I’m interested in her new obesity policy kick; I think her main point is that the government shouldn’t have a policy of trying to make people thinner, which I generally agree with. (Don’t like the choice of words “fat,” “thin” and “lose weight” – I think T-Nation is right to talk instead about “lean” and “lose fat” instead, but those are the general public’s terms.)
She’s right on one thing: trying to tax or outlaw fattening foods does pose a problem for property rights and personal choice.
But people who say “diets don’t work” generally don’t take into account the fact that most people diet badly. Look at this study from the New England Journal of Medicine http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/360/9/859 that put people on diets and noticed that most of them had gained the weight back after two years even though they were eating fewer calories.
What are the “diets”? – well, the highest-protein, lowest-carb of the diets was 25% protein, 35% carbs. Does that sound like a low-carb diet to you?
The subjects get 90 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Period. Is that what you would do if you wanted to lose fat?
People “on diets” eat too little protein, skip meals, don’t exercise (certainly don’t lift) and either find that they’re ravenous and quit, or they stick to the diet, slow their metabolism, and gain weight anyway.
Megan comes to the conclusion that we should stop pressuring fat people to diet. But maybe the point is that we need more penetration of good nutrition advice. The alternative to a bad crash diet is not a bad Standard American Diet.[/quote]
Exactly. It drives me nuts when writers use studies like this to support the notion that “diets don’t work.” It’s very clear from the study above that dieting does work. What’s also clear is that long-term outcome is poor. Long-term outcome and losing weight initially are two different things. What these writers should be asking is: Why do people initially lose weight and then gain it back? What variables contribute to that? How do we manipulate those variables for better long-term outcome?
Instead, we get writers misinterpreting data and making false statements.