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Fat Fables


Why do obesity and the media seem destined to fall out?

Two public health stories currently doing the rounds relate to obesity and weight loss. First, that rapid weight loss keeps weight off and, second, that exercise will make you gain weight.

Of course, because these play against all the standard medical advice, the papers have had a good time with them… but it doesn’t make these stories accurate, helpful or reliable.

Nackers, Ross & Perry’s work on fast or slow weight loss is multiply compromised by methodological considerations and the authors do not claim to add anything new the literature. Slow and steady is still the best bet.

While, as John Blundell from the University of Leeds has pointed out, although exercise may give you an increased appetite in the very short-term, see Martins et al’s paper, there is no evidence that your ‘ingesting behaviour’ is compromised over longer periods.

The problem is that both these selective media fabulations have taken the most seductive spin from research to try to play to our most indolent inclinations.

There’s no escaping it, I’m afraid: if you want to lose weight then slow and steady dietary control and increased physical activity is still the only way!

Nackers, L., Ross, K., & Perri, M. (2010). The Association Between Rate of Initial Weight Loss and Long-Term Success in Obesity Treatment: Does Slow and Steady Win the Race? International Journal of Behavioral Medicine DOI: 10.1007/s12529-010-9092-y

Martins C, Kulseng B, King NA, Holst JJ, & Blundell JE. (2010) The effects of exercise-induced weight loss on appetite-related peptides and motivation to eat. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 95(4), 1609-16. PMID: 20150577

  1. Thank you for adding a tad of common sense to the discussion!

    The thing is: We just love to hear that we don’t have to change our behavior…

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D., physician, author.

  2. I had seen the headlines about fast weight loss, and my first thought was, “Huh?” Thanks for posting this!

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