May 05, 2015

Diets don't work, researcher says

Traci Mann makes several good points, which I'll summarize and let you the reader click to see more and judge for themselves.

1. All types of diets that say a particular food type is guaranteed to help are "magic."
2. Willpower is of little avail with something as complex as dieting.
3. That's because dieting causes neurological, hormonal and metabolic changes.
4. Don't forget there's a diet "industry." It's for-profit, and especially when selling the idea of "one magic food," is selling you something.
5. Initial results in a diet that look good are a "honeymoon."
6. Some dieters, around 5 percent or a bit more, do succeed. Don't consider them the modern misstated "The exception that proves the rule," except for proving the rule that more than 90 percent of people don't succeed.

I first link Mann's new book, then add a couple of my own observations.


This is also yet another argument for medicine in general, and not just, but including diet, not necessarily becoming physics, but still "tightening" p-values and other statistical standards for research significance. Relatively small tweaks, even, would clear out a lot of chaff on diets, specific foods, just how bad sodium is (setting aside basic inorganic chemistry, even, and sodium-potassium ratios) and more.

The same is true for related social sciences like psychology and sociology, and the multidisciplinary field of public health.

It would also lessen replication problems and related issues.


The 5 percent success rate is interesting. That's of course roughly the same estimate of people who, after 1 or 2 tries (repeated effort probably boosts it somewhat, but who knows how much) stay clean/sober after initial effort. And, while AA, or AA + Hazelden method, may not be that successful, I don't claim that “secular” alternatives necessarily do much better. Willpower may be of modestly more effect, but brain and other changes have a fair amount of parallel between addiction and food/diet. Not being told you’re “powerless” may help somewhat, but per issues of willpower, it’s still a challenge.

Fortunately, with addiction, it’s just avoiding certain chemicals, not trying to moderate every chemical in front of your face.

And thus, another parallel is that this may weigh in on the side of, if a person has enough problems to be classified as an "abuser," why, again, abstinence is easier than moderation.

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