Friday, February 1, 2013

Information, Misinformation, Exaggeration...So What?

There's been a lot of talk all over the media this week about an article in the highly prestigious New England Journal of Medicine called "Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity." Considering our successful efforts at combating obesity through using the latest techniques in weight loss surgery, this is obviously a subject of interest to us. We certainly applaud the effort of the very large number of experts who collaborated on this study.

Still, looking at the way the article is being covered in the mass press, it's easy to see one reason why so many overweight people feel like traditional weight loss efforts are nearly pointless. So many conclusions appear vague and, worse, unhelpful. Sure, it's interesting to hear that reports that the amount of calories that some people think they are burning with certain types of exercise might be exaggerated. Still, we think most dieters know intuitively that you'll only burn 500 calories in just 15 minutes of jogging if you are something very near to a professional athlete. Similarly, it turns out that breastfeeding might not be as effective a preventive of obesity as some once thought -- but, giving the rise in obesity is concurrent with the rise in breastfeeding, a lot of us already had a pretty good idea that the practice is no magic bullet when it comes to obesity.

We're not sure what kind of effect this kind of coverage has other than reinforcing what we already know -- getting fat is easy for many of us and losing weight through diet and exercise is really hard. The good news is that, at least for some people, such outstanding bariatric procedures as the sleeve gastrectomy really are making a tremendous difference in people lives.  Moreover, the growing evidence that the hormone ghrelin lies behind our seemingly eternal urges to overeat is directly related to many types of obesity surgery in which the fundus, where most ghrelin is produced, is removed.

What does this all mean? We're not sure, but clearly there's a need for information about obesity and health that's actionable. We've already got enough confusion and despair in the weight loss world.

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