Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Questioning Authority

When I first read about a federal report on obesity being questioned by a professor of medicine and chair of obesity research, I wanted to comment that we need to look at who is criticizing the report. Somebody whose career is based around researching obesity might have a vested interest to discredit a report that indicates that simple changes to diet and exercise patterns might reduce obesity cases significantly. I especially wanted to when Kelly McParland snarked: Walking around the block is going to offset the double baconator you had for lunch? I don’t think so.

Now comes along the New England Journal of Medicine and a new report which attempts to quantify what affect each type of food has on your weight. (Jonathan Kay has a handy summary of the findings.)

I'm sure there are holes to this report when considering the obesity issue, but it does lay out for us a few ideas when it comes to losing weight. Specifically, something along the lines of "fried carbs bad, naturally occurring foods good." I know that I lost a fair bit of weight by changing my diet to include better types of food (like nuts for snacks, whole grains and salsads replacing fries, and chicken replacing beef more often than not.) It just makes sense given what we know.

That's why I don't understand McParland and Dr. Sharma's full scale rejection of the idea that eating more fruits and vegetables and getting 15 minutes of exercising will lead to a decrease of obesity cases. I understand that there are some cases when this will not be able to be the only piece of a solution, but in many cases, it will help, if not solve the problem. One thing that will definitely not help is the defeatist attitude that McParland and Dr. Sharma seem to be willing to propigate. Encouragement helps people; dismissing a sensible claim immediately helps nobody.

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