All Diets Are Created Equal

Equally bad, that is.

I’m sure by now, you’ve seen around the internet how a 2 year study had been done  to decide, once and for all, which diet is best for losing weight.  Never mind that each individuals body will react differently, and need different things.  I’m an omnivore and need animal protein (in the form of meat) in order to get the energy I need to do what I do in a day.  I know there are people who feel the best when they don’t eat any meat (or any animal products) at all.  So, if we have so much diversity in non-dieting life, why would diets be any different?

But that’s not what I want to write about today.

What I want to write about is how everybody was claiming this study as a success.  All diets are equal, headlines have touted.  It doesn’t matter whether you eat low carb, high carb, low fat, whatever.  All you need to do is decrease the calories you’re eating and increase your exercise, and you’ll lose weight.  Heck, even the researchers are calling this a success, because, at the end of the two years, the participants lost an average of 4 kg, no matter what diet they were on.

However.  Oh come, this isn’t a weight loss blog, you knew there had to be a “however” here.  What they are glossing over is that…  well, let me quote directly from the abstract:

At 6 months, participants assigned to each diet had lost an average of 6 kg, which represented 7% of their initial weight; they began to regain weight after 12 months. By 2 years, weight loss remained similar in those who were assigned to a diet with 15% protein and those assigned to a diet with 25% protein (3.0 and 3.6 kg, respectively); in those assigned to a diet with 20% fat and those assigned to a diet with 40% fat (3.3 kg for both groups); and in those assigned to a diet with 65% carbohydrates and those assigned to a diet with 35% carbohydrates (2.9 and 3.4 kg, respectively) (P>0.20 for all comparisons).  (Italics mine.)  

Now, I wanted to pull out a couple things, from their own abstract:  the participants initially lost 6kg, in the first six months of the diet (whichever they were on) and exercising 90 minutes a week.  At twelve months the participants started regaining the weight.  By the end of the study (two years) the average weight loss (from the beginning weight) was only 4kg, and for the specific diets it was 2.9 to 3.3kg.

Tell me how this is a successful diet again?  Oh, right, the participants DID lose weight, even though they gained most of it back (while still on the diet and still exercising 90 minutes a week) during the second year. 

I’d say this abstract not only proves what FA people have been saying for a while now, namely, that diets DON’T work, but it also shows that all the diets fail equally as well.

I’d thank the researchers for showing empirically how diets don’t work, except they are all congratulating themselves on what a good job they’ve done on showing that it doesn’t matter which diet you use, you will lose weight.  Too bad they are just ignoring the part where all of the participants (while still doing everything like they were supposed to) gained some of the weight they’d lost in the first six months back.  In some cases, they gained back over half of the weight they’d lost in the first place.

So, yes, we have proof that all diets are created equal.   Just not in the way it’s been reported in newspapers and on the internet.

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4 Responses

  1. […] Original post by A Day in the (Fat) Life […]

  2. While I’m cool with the general point you’re making, how is gaining back 2-2.7kg gaining back “most” of the weight they had lost? That’s less than half. Exaggeration to make an FA point is no better than exaggeration in the pro-diet world…

    • My math, she isn’t so good.

      Actually, when I was writing that last night, I had it in my head that it was 8kg, and it wasn’t until I reread what I wrote (in preparation to answering your response here) that I realized my mistake. Thank you for pointing it out to me!

      I’ll fix that in a minute.

      But in some of the cases they did gain back 3.1 kg, which is (barely) over half.

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