What triggers weightloss?

For most people, the answer to that question is obvious: eating less and exercising more. But what about for people who are trying to lose weight? The evidence isn’t there in the science itself, but in the popular media. A review called “Fads, Facts, and Fad diets,” published in the January 2015 issue of the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood looked at all the health news for the year of 2005. The researchers analyzed the results of a survey of 2,500 children (age 7–12) and 12,000 adults (age 35–64) in the U.S. A number of the weight-loss fads, such as the “Eat more vegetables” message and the “Exercise more every day” advice, made their way into health articles, the review found. But only two fad diets featured prominently: one for people with Type 2 diabetes and one for people with chronic diseases. This “conclusion was reached in light of the fact that diet has been a recurrent topic of discussion and debate in the media over the last two decades,” the authors noted. In other words, that there have been a handful of “crap” diets that have received coverage but not much else. If a fad fad diet is the only fad diet to make it into a lot of the media, does the fad fad diet in question make a dent in how people think about nutrition? The fad diet that the scientists looked at actually made a big impact on how people thought about nutrition. “Most of our findings can be attributed to a very small number of subjects that actually consumed the fad diet,” says Christopher McDougall, a senior study coordinator from Oxfordshire in the U.K. “We had very few, very few women that actually lost significant amounts of weight and ate the fad diet that we studied.” McDougall, an author of the review study, has written a paper in which he suggests people should avoid fad diets “for now,” but he isn’t the only one who thinks they can make a difference. According to a 2010 paper from the journal Diabetes Care, diet fad diets have been used for medical treatment for at least 15 years and are being evaluated for potential use as treatments for a range of illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and mental impairment. “The evidence is very circumstantial,” says Susan Aitken of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who studies fad diets at the University of British Columbia.
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