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Obesity Breaks Out

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:08pm
All over the blogosphere this morning, I see articles on obesity. Interestingly, it is not a single study or reaction to a single publication. These are all separate:

  1. Fox News article on how dieting children end up gaining weight. This should surprise no one who treats obesity, since dieting is generally avoided in children and adolescents for fear of the double-edged sword of malnutrition and obesity which can co-exist when one's overall intake is out of balance. Full research to be published in November Preventive Medicine .

  2. Med Journal Watch blog post on a study that indicates dieting messages don't work . Not a surprise, since over-eating does not seem to be the principal deciding factor underlying obesity. Healthy eating behaviors (a term used by the authors of the study which appears to perplex the authors of the blog), including how we eat (social, solo, environment and context, binging etc) and what we eat (appropriate balance of high fat, high carb and high protein foods, since no food is inherently unhealthy, except maybe that chocolate-hazelnut spread from Europe I love so much...) and how we exercise (affected by length of commute, built environment and food choices in our neighborhoods) all affect weight. Obesity is a lifestyle disease and there are just too many enticements to being unhealthy and too few incentives to being healthy.
  3. Original research that points to the disappointing failure of a New Zealand program targeting obesity in schools. The fact is that, even when we correctly identify the causes of a problem, that does not represent evidence that an intervention will work. School-based interventions for obesity have been producing contradictory results for over a decade and we still can't figure out what components are important and what components can be discarded. Evidence suggests that exercise counseling and basic nutrition education must coexist to work well. It seems to me that the CHOPPS study focussed disproportionately on soda consumption. [Via MDLinx ]
  4. One final piece of research that indicates how the interaction of genetics and the intra-uterine environment can cause problems with carbohydrate metabolism into childhood and beyond. Epidemiology is a powerful tool for approximating truth, but bench research will need to become integrated with community based interventions to address complex problems like obesity. [Also via MDLinx ]
Bottom line, don't buy those who sell hate and blame everything on the victim of an illness. True, there are many things obese people can do to improve their lot. It's just not as easy as taking a hike.
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