Researcher: Losing Weight Doesn’t Improve Health Because People Can’t Lose Weight

Maybe it’s me.

Maybe I’m the dope.

I’m not a researcher, but I simply don’t know how to grasp the following report out of Australia:

Losing weight is often touted as a way to improve health, but many weight-loss programs may not help stave off disease since people tend to gain the weight back, Australian researchers say.

What’s better is the methodology our researchers used:

To test the potential impact of different diets, the researchers ran two computer simulations: One included a low-fat diet, the other a diet rich in whole grains and vegetables plus 180 minutes of exercise per week.

According to the models, people lost an average of 8 to 12 pounds on the diets and kept the weight off for an average of 6 months. But the pounds slowly crept back on, and after less than 6 years, the dieters were back where they started — negating any improvement in health from the weight loss.

In addition, the researchers estimate that only about 3 percent of Australia’s population would participate in weight-loss programs.

That’s right. They sat in front of a computer the whole time and based their data on 2 diets – low fat and low calorie – that we know quite well don’t work in the long run.

I work with data all the time, and know how easy it is to feed in a bunch of numbers, run an analysis against it, and have it spit out beautiful, detailed results – which are completely and entirely wrong. It just takes one bad number or one erroneous assumption and it all falls to pieces.

And besides all that – what is the point? To come to a conclusion that people can’t improve their health losing weight if they can’t keep it off is so obvious that I can’t conceive why it would take more than 5 minutes sitting in an armchair to figure this one out.

And yet it gets printed in a respected journal on obesity.

Is it any wonder that modern science is essentially useless in helping us fat folks get thinner?

4 thoughts on “Researcher: Losing Weight Doesn’t Improve Health Because People Can’t Lose Weight

  1. I hope your last sentence “Is it any wonder that modern science is essentially useless in helping us fat folks get thinner?” is in jest. As there is plenty of published ‘modern science’ that supports low carb and the benefits of even temporary weight loss.

    1. Well, no, not really. While there is a lot of science backing low carb, it is still fashionable to say things like this, which I got from the following link:

      “The most important thing there — and that’s why it’s in bold — is calories,” said Keith-Thomas Ayoob, an associate clinical professor of pediatrics and registered dietitian at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “That will determine whether someone gains or loses weight. Your body doesn’t really care whether the calories come from sugar or fat when it comes to controlling weight.”

      Scientists still believe this stuff, sadly.

  2. If, then, we assume that everybody will inevitably gain back all lost weight, is there no benefit in having spent a few extra years thinner? I haven’t looked for any research on that, but it seems that if you take two 40-yr olds at the same weight and with the same blood markers, the one who was overweight all his life will be less “healthy” than the one who lost a bunch of weight on low-carb, even if he was unable to keep it off more than 5 years. Thoughts?

    1. It’s just dumb research. Real people who lose weight gain a host of benefits, both psychological and physical. It can turn around their lives. In my opinion, what DOES have to be emphasized is that, even if you get thin, you still have ‘obesity’ in a sense – it’s a chronic medical condition that never goes away, even if you get to your ideal weight.

      Go back to your previous eating, and you will return to your previous weight, if not more. Most people go on diets that are not sustainable, lose weight, then stop them – then gain it back. Of course they do! If you have high blood pressure and stop taking meds, it goes up.

      For me, low carb is sustainable – I’ve been doing it for almost 8 years now. Imagine being on Nutrisystem for 8 years!

      So we try to treat obesity with diets doomed to failure in the long term – then say there’s no health benefits from dieting because the stupid diets we recommend don’t work and they are going to gain it back anyway.

      There’s a circular reasoning at work here, and it’s done to support the notion that the official party-line nutrition advice is correct – it isn’t.

      While I’ve fallen off the wagon many times in that 8 years, I’m still down 40 lbs from my high 7 years ago, and have lost about 15 lbs since November – and I control what would be called diabetes if I ate a normal diet – I’m actually a diabetic with normal blood sugar because I eat low carb. I also help control my high blood pressure and my bloodwork is fine – I’d probably be put on medication for high cholesterol if I ate normally.

      So if I stop low carb, I think within a year I’d be on at least 2 other medications: diabetes medication and high cholesterol medication.

      I personally recommend that people find a diet – any diet – that they feel they can live on for the rest of their life. For me it’s low carb – others might disagree.

      It’s not the point. Diets don’t work – we already know that – lifestyle changes DO work.

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