Monday, August 1, 2011

What You See, Conclusion

Conclusion (from this article):  But contrary to what many people believe, an increased intake of dairy products, whether low-fat (milk) or full-fat (milk and cheese), had a neutral effect on weight.  And despite conventional advice to eat less fat, weight loss was greatest among people who ate more yogurt and nuts, including peanut butter, over each four-year period.  But, consistent with the new study’s findings, metabolism takes a hit from refined carbohydrates — sugars and starches stripped of their fiber, like white flour. When Dr. David Ludwig of Children’s Hospital Boston compared the effects of refined carbohydrates with the effects of whole grains in both animals and people, he found that metabolism, which determines how many calories are used at rest, slowed with the consumption of refined grains but stayed the same after consumption of whole grains.
Well, that sure settles it.  Lot’s of fat and whole grains are great!  But how did they determine which of these narratives is true – nurses are part of the entire medical/government cabal which, like Ms. Brody, has been singing anthems to the holy grail of “whole grains” for ten to fifteen years, and those nurses more focused on obsessively doing what they preach are likely to have followed their own advice, and these nurses also do whatever else they have to in order to maintain a healthy body weights.  So did they lose weight from their whole grain consumption or were they the kind of folks (due to temperament or genetics or both) that can eat anything and maintain their weight, and also ate a lot of whole grains?   This is a great example of what observational studies can and cannot tell us.  It is a shame to me that that a professional health reporter cannot sort these simple truths about observational studies out.  Observational studies are very limited in what they can be used to determine - I often wonder why we keep doing them when they've all been done, and all they tell us is that we need to do bigger, better intervention studies - which will be exorbitantly expensive.
As has been suggested by previous smaller studies, how long people slept each night influenced their weight changes. In general, people who slept less than six hours or more than eight hours a night tended to gain the most. Among possible explanations are effects of short nights on satiety hormones, as well as an opportunity to eat more while awake, Dr. Hu said.
At least she/they didn’t pretend the study told them the causes for these sleep/weight gain/weight loss relationships.
He was not surprised by the finding that the more television people watched, the more weight they gained, most likely because they are influenced by a barrage of food ads and snack in front of the TV.
This is an interesting finding about which one could enjoy speculating – I suppose it could be a bunch of weak minded humans influenced by advertising.  It could also be the old “they are not active enough because they watch too much TV” argument that fits right in with the “bad fat people” narrative.   And it could also be the carbohydrate hypothesis:   people who over-eat carbs will feel less energetic and be less active because their metabolic derangement results in much of their food energy intake becoming sequestered as fat, resulting in a defacto “low energy” state.
Ms. Brody’s interpretation of this study is, generally speaking, “do what I’ve been telling you all of these years and you’ll lose weight.”  She’s long been an advocate of whole grains, vegetable proteins, and a low fat, lower animal product approach.  Do you think this study will help her help others to live better, feel better, look better and perform better? 
I doubt that it will, for a couple of reasons.  First, her approach does not put a clear enough focus on carbohydrate consumption, and folks who are struggling with fat accumulation have to give that element of their diets very clear attention.  Second, her approach is like giving a person a map of City A, which is labeled City B, and sending them on their way to City B.  They may reach their destination by accident, but they’d be more likely to get there with an accurate, complete model of the relationships in human health and diet.  
Now it is time for feedback from you - pls get to the comments link and let me know if this was a helpful way to break down Ms. Brody's article as a means of illustration - thanks!

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