Last week, I gave a talk at the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. It turns out that several of the folks I met with published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine a day after my talk entitled, "Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity." Here is an expert from the coverage at New York Times, in interviews with the team leader, David Allison:
His first thought was that, of course, weighing oneself daily helped control weight. He checked for the conclusive studies he knew must exist. They did not.
“My goodness, after 50-plus years of studying obesity in earnest and all the public wringing of hands, why don’t we know this answer?” Dr. Allison asked. “What’s striking is how easy it would be to check. Take a couple of thousand people and randomly assign them to weigh themselves every day or not.”
Yet it has not been done.
Instead, people often rely on weak studies that get repeated ad infinitum. It is commonly thought, for example, that people who eat breakfast are thinner. But that notion is based on studies of people who happened to eat breakfast. Researchers then asked if they were fatter or thinner than people who happened not to eat breakfast — and found an association between eating breakfast and being thinner. But such studies can be misleading because the two groups might be different in other ways that cause the breakfast eaters to be thinner. But no one has randomly assigned people to eat breakfast or not, which could cinch the argument.
As their study shows, there are no easy "quick fixes" to the state of obesity in America.