The Effect of Sunlight

“Promising” Obesity Prevention with a Weak Effect

Authors of a new study in Preventive Medicine Reports tell us that their program “shows promise for obesity prevention among children in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.” But there’s a catch. The study failed to show a significant effect on the study’s primary outcome measure for obesity prevention – BMI z-score. Undaunted, Milagros Rosal and colleagues call it “marginally significant” deep within the body of the paper.

For the the abstract, though, their assessment is unqualified. “The Healthy Kids & Families intervention led to a greater reduction in children’s BMI z-score,” they write.

This is the sort of spin that leads people to believe preventing obesity will surely be better than providing highly effective medical care for people who already have it.

“Feeding Us Rubbish”

Picking up on this preference for prevention over treatment, Nicola Davis reports in the Guardian on obesity prevention advocates who say that medical breakthroughs for treating obesity might become “an excuse to avoid tackling the root causes of obesity.” Professor Graham MacGregor tells her:

“Unhealthy food is the biggest cause of death and disability in the whole world.

“The question is, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to let the food industry go on feeding us this rubbish and promoting it … and then give drugs to try and stop the effects of all this unhealthy food? Or are you going to try and stop the food industry doing this?”

This conviction that someone is feeding us rubbish might qualify as another pandemic of our times.

Must We Choose?

Honesty compels us to admit that current options for obesity prevention have, at best, a weak effect, But we agree with the imperative to double down on the effort, to find better options. Alternatives that will actually work.

But no, we don’t have to choose between prevention and care for people who have obesity any more than we must do it for cancer. We can do both, so long as our biases don’t get in the way. Obesity medicine physician Yoni Freedhoff explains:

“Finally, literally and figuratively, like asthma, for childhood obesity, we thankfully now have a number of effective treatment options that we can offer, and it’s only our societal weight bias that leads to thinking that’s anything but great.”

Click here for the paper in Preventive Medicine Reports and here for the reporting by Davis in the Guardian.

The Effect of Sunlight, painting by Camille Pissarro / WikiArt

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February 6, 2023

One Response to ““Promising” Obesity Prevention with a Weak Effect”

  1. February 06, 2023 at 9:47 am, Allen Browne said:

    We must do both!!