Love (of Technology)

How Hard Can It Be? Write It When You Bite It

“Is the most effective weight-loss strategy really that hard?” Shucks, no, says the University of Vermont in a press release on a new study in Obesity. All it takes is just 15 minutes per day. “Write it when you bite it.”

“Would-be weight-losers can’t muster the willpower to do it,” says this sunny bulletin. Suddenly, all mysteries of weight loss are gone. We have the answer.

Keeping Track Helps

This is not an especially new observation. Study after study finds that keeping track of what you eat predicts both short and long term weight outcomes. In this particular study, everybody used a web-based program to record what they ate. The people who logged more often lost more weight. The most successful individuals spent an average of 23 minutes per day logging their food in the first month. By the sixth month, that was down to 15 minutes.

So it’s easy to see why tracking your food intake is a foundation for most weight management programs. It helps people focus. It’s linked to better results.

Keeping It Real

Honestly, though, all this easy peasy happy talk is a tiny bit annoying. So let’s keep it real and take a look at the evidence behind these sunny assessments of food logging. That’s what Lora Burke and colleagues did in 2011. They found a significant, consistent association between self-monitoring and weight loss.

But here’s the thing. The level of evidence is weak. Most of the observations are from studies of white women. And at the end of the day, what we have is an association. If you’re a person who logs their food, you’ll probably do better. Is it the logging that does it? Maybe. Or is it something about having an inclination to log what you eat that does it? That’s an open question.

Bottom Line

The truth is that this isn’t easy for most people. Some people can focus on logging everything they eat and get better outcomes by doing so. However, as we all know, your hypothalamus is hard at work keeping track of any weight you lose, even when you slack off from the obsessive food tracking. Thus, over time, it protects you from starving and acts to restore your reserves of energy in the form of fat tissue. Your hypothalamus never takes a holiday.

Easy? Just write it when you bite it? The person who wrote that press release doesn’t have a clue.

Click here for the study and here for the absurd press release.

Love (of Technology), photograph © Matthew G / flickr

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February 25, 2019

One Response to “How Hard Can It Be? Write It When You Bite It”

  1. February 25, 2019 at 8:34 pm, Susan March said:

    Working in the internet’s Stone Age, trying to build a platform to allow subscribers to easily journal food and activity and make it user friendly and attractive to all users, I came across this brilliant weight loss cartoon from Randy Glasbergin.