Monday, August 8, 2016

Is There Any Real Evidence That Dieting Works?

The lovely Amptoons recently brought up an interesting question. Are there credible studies that actually demonstrate that people can lose weight and keep it off via means considered healthy?

I’m Asking You For A Peer-Reviewed Study Showing That A Typical Fat Person Can Become Sustainably Non-Fat Through Deliberate Weight-Loss

I'm not the kind of person who thinks that scientific studies "prove" things. Scientific proof is not a thing. Science can only demonstrate beyond significant doubt that something is NOT true. It cannot prove something to be true. But it's interesting that ideas about weight are routinely taken as fact in this society - being over a certain number of pounds is unhealthy, appearing fat means you're unhealthy, taking in fewer calories than you use causes weight loss, enough dieting and exercise will make you lose weight and if it's not working you're not trying hard enough. Yet these ideas are largely unsupported by evidence.

In fact, science has done its actual job by showing through studies that these ideas are generally not true. First of all, humans need body fat to live. Also, muscle weighs more than fat and all the other reason poundage isn't a good indicator of health.

But also, if you actually pay attention to the vast majority of people that attempt sustainable weight loss, which probably includes the vast majority of people you know or at least the majority of women, that should be enough to question the idea that commonly accepted ideas about weight loss aren't true. It's always the same, isn't it? People might lose weight temporarily, but the second they stop starving themselves, they gain it back and usually more. Like everyone else, they gain weight overall as they get older, because that's what most human bodies do.

Yes, there are some exceptions, but that's all they are - exceptions. They're probably people who decided to dedicate themselves to vigorous daily athletic activity that most of us simply don't have time for, if we have the physical ability. Others have been able to afford nutritionists and personal trainers. The only people in my life who have lost weight for significant periods of time have done so because they were sick.

There are comments on the piece that link to studies. One in particular has a meta-analysis of multiple U.S. studies in which people did lose weight and keep it off! The average weight loss? Three kilograms. That's 6.6 pounds. After five years.

Last time I went to the doctor, I weighed in at 198 pounds at 5'5". Losing 6 pounds is not going to put me at a weight that our society deems acceptable. My blood pressure, however, remains at a very acceptable level to the doctor.

Of course, the fact remains that the science and ideas of health don't really matter as much as whatever a person feels like eating or doing with their own bodies is their own business. People's happiness is what matters, and you don't get to decide what makes other individuals happy. So bye.

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