Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Wisdom Wednesday: Reliable Weight-Loss Programs May Be Hard to Find
For people who need to lose a lot of weight, it might be tough to find a program in their community that meets nationally recommended guidelines for shedding pounds, researchers suggest.
In a new study, almost 200 weight-loss programs were evaluated on whether they included five key standards: high-intensity intervention of at least 14 sessions in six months; an evidence-based diet; physical activity guidelines; self-monitoring tools such as food tracking, and a recommendation against the use of nutritional supplements, said study author Dr. Kimberly Gudzune. She is a weight-loss specialist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore.
Those standards are agreed upon by the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the Obesity Society, Gudzune said.
But very few programs in the study met the standards, the researchers found.
“There is very little oversight [of weight-loss programs], and it’s hard for consumers and medical professionals alike to tell what is effective, reliable and meets guidelines’ standards,” Gudzune said in a statement.
“Only 1% of the programs even mentioned all those [five] criteria on their website,” Gudzune said. And only 9% actually adhered in some way to the guidelines, she said.
The findings, published Feb. 10 in the journal Obesity, indicate that more oversight is needed for weight-loss programs around the country, Gudzune said.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission regulates the weight-loss and supplement industry by checking advertising claims, but Gudzune said that oversight should be expanded, requiring weight-loss programs to disclose practices and how they meet widely accepted weight-loss standards.
I have had several requests to write about various diets. I’m using this study to kick off a Wisdom Wednesday series on diet.
My nutritional diplomate program used “Perspectives in Nutrition” as the basic course outline. The book begins by stating that all the nutrients we need are in our food. Then the next 700 plus pages go on to demonstrate how our foods no longer provide all those needs. In short, nutritional supplementation is a must in the 21st century diet. To include, as one of the five key standards, a recommendation against the use of nutritional supplements is inexcusable. It flies in the face of all scientific research in the last fifty years.
The remainder of the standards are acceptable. Together we will explore just what an “evidence-based diet” really is. On the surface, the term “evidence-based” disallows any diet to meet the standards. By definition, evidence-based is comprised of three equal parts – valid scientific research, clinician experience, and patient preference. Unfortunately, the term is too often applied to a concept based on scientific research alone. Just a brief review of PubMed will show you evidence-based research to support or refute virtually any health issue you can think of.
The Bottom Line:
The key standards of weight-loss programs as agreed upon by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and the Obesity Society are not in alignment with this clinician’s experience. Let’s see what our culture really thinks about diet.
Source: February 12, 2016 National Institutes of Health
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