Blue Drops

No, Water Is Not “The New Secret to Losing Weight”

Repeating a pattern that is all too common, researchers at the University of Michigan have trolled through NHANES data and found a correlation between hydration and obesity. They published it in the Annals of Family Practice. They handed out a press release. And voilà! CNN and others are reporting on a “new secret to losing weight.”

Never mind that weight loss was not the subject of the study. Never mind that correlation proves nothing about causation – as your high school science teacher could tell you. All that information can only be found at end of the many words that are being written about the miracles of water.

Water is definitely the stuff of life. But drinking plenty of water is definitely not the key to either preventing or curing obesity. In reporting their results, Tammy Chang and colleagues say plainly, “Water intake as a weight loss tool is not an evidence-based recommendation.”

For prevention, promoting water as a beverage of choice is widely presumed to be smart strategy. But that is a presumption. A recent review of long-term health outcomes concluded:

Although studies on this topic are sparse, the available evidence suggests a potential beneficial effect on body weight outcomes when SSBs are replaced by water or low-calorie beverages. Further studies in this area are warranted to fully understand the long-term health implications of beverage substitutions.

We advise drinking water, but not not the hype. Bad reporting on “the new secret to losing weight” is an insulting ritual. Curing and preventing obesity will take more than water.

Click here for the study, here for the press release, and here if you want to read the hype from CNN.

Blue Drops, photograph © Dan (catching up) / flickr

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July 14, 2016

5 Responses to “No, Water Is Not “The New Secret to Losing Weight””

  1. July 14, 2016 at 8:52 am, Al Lewis said:

    How do you keep up with all this nonsense? It’s like dietary whack-a-mole.

    • July 14, 2016 at 11:02 am, Ted said:

      I’m barely able to skim the surface. Whack-a-mole is right. Thanks, Al.

  2. July 14, 2016 at 10:56 am, Stephen Phillips said:

    If I was your “personal scientist” and told you that you were tired when your were wide awake, or you were cold when your were hot or hungry when you were full….you likely would post a “scientist needed” ad in Craigslist..
    The hypothalamus has regulated our evolutionary journey…it autonomically self-regulates body temperature,sleep, appetite, thirst and many other functions
    We are all willing to trust and listen to its signals….except when it comes to thirst…..somehow the bottled water industry and science community have convinced us that they know best about hydration
    Who do you trust …..them or your body?

    Stephen Phillips
    American Association of Bariatric Counselors

  3. July 14, 2016 at 11:17 am, Bruce Daggy said:

    Headlines and indeed whole online articles, particularly those in multi-page or lists format, offer less veracity in the new media era. Here’s a good explanation of what’s behind it:

    • July 14, 2016 at 1:14 pm, Ted said:

      Good insight, Bruce. Thanks! Don’t forget to click.