Obesity Study

Yet another study on the futility of losing weight has been making the media rounds.  These things piss me off. Not so much the study, but how the abstract gets passed around and highlights taken out to make it seem like anyone trying to lose weight is doomed. Just doomed.




Here is a link to the abstract: Click here.  I will copy the pertinent info that is being shared:

Objectives. We examined the probability of an obese person attaining normal body weight.

Conclusions. The probability of attaining normal weight or maintaining weight loss is low. Obesity treatment frameworks grounded in community-based weight management programs may be ineffective.

Sounds depressing, right?  Makes you wonder if anyone read the actual report, which is here: click here.

I will outline the salient points to put this study in perspective:

1. The study followed patients 20 and older and looked at BMI over time at subsequent doctor visits.  They excluded anyone who had gastric bypass surgery and focused on patients with overweight/obese BMI.

2. The study does not note whether or not any of these patients were trying to lose weight or not. They just documented BMI on subsequent office visits over time and noted whether it went up or down.  You can bet there were plenty of those patients that were not even dieting.  They noted that if a BMI went down over time, it was likely to go back up again, possibly meaning the person was dieting, but they could not verify that since they were not tracking who was/was not trying to lose weight. 

3.  The most important note to me: The criteria for successfully losing and maintaining loss was to achieve a ‘normal’  BMI of 25 or below and keep it off.  So if you lost 100 pounds, kept it off, and your BMI was still 28 – you were not considered a ‘success’, but part  of the statistic of how hard it is to get to and maintain a ‘normal’ body weight.  So take that those of you who have kept off a large amount of weight, but aren’t ‘normal’. Apparently that means little.  Idiots.

So, while the study itself can be read with many caveats, what to people see in the media?

Headlines like “Weight Loss Difficult for the Obese” – well, d’uh…  🙄 

Or “Slim Chance: Most Obese People Likely To Stay That Way“.  Oh the puns, haha…not.

and even “Obese people almost never attain a normal weight“.  So give up now before you waste your time!

That is not encouraging. Anyone reading the superficial would not even want to bother if the odds appear to be so stacked against them.  Well, you know – living a healthy lifestyle and getting rid of at least some of the excess weight is the best thing you can do for yourself. You may never get to a ‘normal’ weight, but you can change your life for the better.  As always, it’s not all or nothing.  

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13 thoughts on “Obesity Study

  1. Lisa

    So…don’t even bother trying??

    Yeah I lost 110 pounds and kept it off for 6+ years and worked out hard core (like drenched in sweat, burning a crapton of calories) 5 days a week and my BMI was still considered overweight or obese depending on what chart you looked at. Nothing can REALLY measure your overall health. That’s what makes me mad about these “Studies”.
    Lisa´s last blog post ..Books!

  2. Anne

    Hmmm, well, I lost 40 pounds and have kept it off for 13 years. I write down what I eat every day and exercise most days. When I fall off the wagon, I get back on (and sometimes it takes weeks to get back on track). It’s not exciting, but this is what it takes! You have to pay attention.

  3. Karen P

    Yoni Friedhoff, MD wrote a great blog post on this study. He explained it well and provided a link to another study http://www.weightymatters.ca/2015/07/new-obesity-study-from-annals-of.html

    I liked the “Look Ahead Study” better- that seems to fit with reality on what I see in long term maintainers.

    It is important to try and to try to maintain for those of us with health problems. Just getting my insurance discount ($40) per month as a single parent is great savings. Plus all the OTC meds I don’t have to buy. Karen P
    Karen P´s last blog post ..Tweets I liked last week- Mid July, 2015 sleep, weight maintenance,habits, and bone density

  4. debby

    Ha. My first reaction to seeing your poster was ” I KNEW it!!” LOL. I think I read someone else who wrote about this, and they also pointed out that “getting to normal” should not be the criteria for success. But you know what? That’s what drives me nuts about so many many people who are trying to lose weight. They REFUSE to give up on reaching a “normal” weight, and so are always unhappy or disappointed or frustrated. And then they give up and gain the weight back, instead of being happy and proud that they have lost a smaller amount of weight.
    debby´s last blog post ..Down the Garden Path

  5. CARLA

    I couldnt read the article as I thought precisely as you did.
    Gloom Doom GIVE UP NOW! Trying is futile!!! fear mongering.
    CARLA´s last blog post ..Currently, Lately.

  6. Shelley B

    I remember thinking that the numbers game was BS when I was at my lowest weight in decades, wearing size 6 pants…and still technically overweight according to the BMI chart. And Debby is so right – even if overweight people just lose part of their weight, they’re still so much better off than had they done nothing.
    Shelley B´s last blog post ..WWU – And It Begins Again…

  7. Jeannie/Qlts2Slo

    I don’t have a concrete goal weight, but there is a goal sort of written in mud and it would be no where near considered normal by the charts. However, I have lost 20% of my weight and I KNOW I’m a success by how I feel, what I can do, and some important-to-me lab results. How I look and BMI are a different story entirely, but I’ll celebrate me as a success just the same, thank you very much. [Oooo, this ranting is fun!]

  8. Fran

    I don’t read studies like this anymore because the only thing that helps is eat normal and healthy and exercise. I am so done with weight loss programs and studies about it.

    How about Van Garderen: I felt so sorry for him he had to leave the tour yesterday. I almost cried. He wanted to go on but just couldn’t anymore. The only thing positive about it is that our Dutch boy Gesink moved on to place 6 and because Contador fell, he could make up some time on him. This is the first year I am following it completely and I am loving it so far. Saturday will be the best day with the Alpe D’huez, turn 17 is named the Dutch turn because of all the Dutch fans that are there.
    Fran´s last blog post ..Wednesday July 22, 2015: De Biesbosch

    1. Lori Post author

      We felt terrible for TeJay. It was heartbreaking to watch him abandon. He and his team were having such a great tour.

  9. Biz

    I try not to look at that crap too – I workout/walk 5+ days a week and I am still considered “obese” on charts.

    I also work with a woman who had gastric bypass surgery but still eats the same shit she did to get fat, it just takes her longer to eat it – it kills me when I leave for the gym at lunch and she says “do some for me!” because she’s never done any exercise. What kills me more is that she’ll leave her Shape magazine on my chair with a note that says “I don’t need this anymore, but thought you could use it.” Gah.
    Biz´s last blog post ..Sweaty Balls and Madison Farmers Market?

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