How Come Cinnabon Doesn’t Cure Obesity?

Scanning the latest hyperbolic headlines on obesity research, we’re left with just one question. Does Cinnabon have a cure for obesity?

It’s really quite amazing. The Tech Times tells us “Cinnamon Could be the Secret Ingredient to Weight Loss.” USA Today says “Cinnamon May Help Attack Fat, Fight Obesity.” So maybe all that Cinnabon smell wafting through the airport could make us drop a few pounds, eh?

Not Exactly

Unfortunately, health reporters are fudging a bit.

The amazing research they’re spinning is lab work. Researchers studied cells in a laboratory. No humans. Not even a mouse. No real cinnamon. Just fat cells from mice. and adipose stem cells from humans. They analyzed how a chemical from cinnamon – cinnamaldehyde – might affect signaling from those fat cells.

The scientists found an impact on signals from those fat cells related to thermogenesis and metabolic responses. It’s perfectly valid basic research. But it tells us nothing about clinical outcomes.

Throwing caution to the wind, PR geniuses at the University of Michigan had everything they needed for a bit of holiday health spin. They put out a press release saying that “Cinnamon Turns Up the Heat on Fat Cells.” They even got a tantalizing quote from the senior author, Jun Wu:

Cinnamon has been part of our diets for thousands of years, and people generally enjoy it. So if it can help protect against obesity, too, it may offer an approach to metabolic health that is easier for patients to adhere to.

Don’t Count on Cinnabon or a Pumpkin Spice Latte

So with the blessings of the University of Michigan, reporters are going nuts with this story. Five days after the press release, they’re still churning out misleading headlines. Our favorite line of fiction comes from the New York Post. It tells us that “Part of Your Pumpkin Spice Latte May Actually Be Making You Skinnier.”

Are they lying? Or just having fun? It makes no difference.

In the end, what they’re doing is trivializing obesity, its health impact, and obesity research. The real message is that this is a frivolous subject. And publications think their readers are dumb enough to go for this click bait.

Shame on the University of Michigan for whipping up this froth.

Click here for the study, here for the press release, and here for a sample of the nonsense.

Cinnabon, photograph © crwr / flickr

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November 26, 2017

4 Responses to “How Come Cinnabon Doesn’t Cure Obesity?”

  1. November 26, 2017 at 10:58 am, Stephen Phillips / American Association of Bariatric Counselors said:

    Science evolves by smashing pedestals, conjecture and refutation.
    Needless to say cinnamaldehyde and accelerating metabolism is merely conjecture.
    On the other hand, the Cinnabon is a delicious pastry evidenced by public consensus and sales…..
    I once heard a patient say, “you can never get enough of the food you don’t want.” For some a Cinnabon is just what the doctor ordered. and it can offer satiety for both mind and body
    When they get to the empirical testing of Cinnabon. I would like to a subject….

  2. November 26, 2017 at 11:59 am, Angie Golden said:

    Perfect as always Ted. Thanks for this!!!! I loved not even a mouse

  3. November 26, 2017 at 1:33 pm, Dave Stone said:

    >>And publications think their readers are dumb enough to go for this click bait.<<

    Well, they do indeed go for it, but it's not, imo, a matter of too few smarts. It's instead a matter of hope — as always, hope for a "magic bullet" that will make what is extremely difficult (permanently changing eating habits to reduce Calorie intake) an easy and simple thing. Or, far better, magically melting fat away without having to pay the terrible price (permanently changing eating habits to reduce Calorie intake). Hope springs eternal, and click-bait will spring eternal along with it.

    • November 27, 2017 at 4:17 am, Ted said:

      Good point, Dave. Thanks!