Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Lonely Voice Cries Out In The Wild

The Observer offers another indication that medicos are more priests than scientists.
The money quote:
The report that these experts cite most often as grounds for their assessments was published in 2000 by two Finnish researchers who surveyed all the relevant research on exercise and weight from the previous 20 years. Yet the Finnish report, the most scientifically rigorous review of the evidence to date, can hardly be said to have cleared the matter up. When the Finnish investigators looked at the results of the dozen best-constructed experimental trials that addressed weight maintenance - that is, successful dieters who were trying to keep off the pounds they had shed - they found that everyone regains weight. And depending on the type of trial, exercise would either decrease the rate of that gain (by 3.2oz per month) or increase its rate (by 1.8oz). As the Finns themselves concluded, the relationship between exercise and weight is 'more complex' than they might otherwise have imagined.
Some conventional wisdom that is not supported by scientific evidence:
Calories count.
A calorie is the amount of heat energy required to raise a liter of water 1o Celsius. How do you convert a liter of mass to energy? By using a constant (e=mc2). What's the constant for converting a liter of carrots to a liter of water? Is the same constant useful to convert potatoes? Courtesy of the wayback machine archive of
  • 3500 food calories burned by exercise equals 1 pound of weight loss.

  • 3500 food calories of water equals a whopping 7700 pounds of weight loss.

  • 3500 food calories of fat equals .856 pounds.

  • 3500 food calories of protein equals 1.925 pounds

  • 3500 food calories of cabbage equals 30.8 pounds

  • 3500 food calories of bacon equals 2.48 pounds.

  • Reducing food intake reduces weight.
    Sure it does. The largest experimental proof of this is the Twentieth Century's gulags and POW camps. It's called starvation. To make it work requires constant watching. By armed guards. With no compunction or empathy. As soon as that is removed, the individual's set point reasserts itself.

    We know how the body gains, loses and maintains weight
    Nope. Too busy making money with diet pills and drinks and fads based on misconceptions and erroneous science and "that's the stuff to feed the suckers." There are odd facts out there which are tentatively established. But the complexity of interactions which determine weight is still a terra incognita filled with hoary dragons and toasty shibboleths.

    Look how you look-- so eat!
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