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Breaking Research: Whats a Dieter To Do?

Every day, it seems, a new study pertaining to weight loss or nutrition is released to the public. These studies tout the latest and greatest trends, products or discoveries and then a willing public jumps on the bandwagon expecting mighty results.

Have you ever wondered about the reliability or efficacy of those studies? Do they stand the test of time or slip into obscurity only to be replaced or supplanted by another study?

Well, Greek researcher Dr. John Ioannidis decided to study the studies and he came to some very interesting conclusions. Dr. Ioannidis reviewed 45 studies published in one of three prominent medical journals (New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and Lancet) between 1990 and 2003. Of the 45 studies, seven of them (16%) were contradicted by later research and another seven (16%) were found in subsequent studies to have effects that were lesser than initially thought.

At this rate, over three in ten studies released will report results that are either not as solid as originally reported, or are completely incorrect. Going six or seven for ten in baseball is a Hall of Fame-paced trend, but what does this mean for those of us who are relying on these studies to help us win the "Battle of the Bulge?"

Like choosing a new shirt or blouse, a haircut or hairstyle, or a paint color for a house or a room, there is inherently more risk in selecting an option that has not been time-tested than one that has. We've all come across a garment in our own closets that caused us to wonder just what we were thinking when we bought that horrible thing. Similarly, jumping on a scientific bandwagon that "promises" to be the road to success can leave you broken down on the side of the road.

When new studies are released, remember that there are members of the media and business people who stand to gain from over-promoting results that are too new to trust. Of the contradicted results, half were completely incorrect (or so it seems) and half were shown to be much less effective than originally reported.

From a practical standpoint, ask yourself if you are willing to set yourself back by gaining weight rather than losing it, or by spending time pursuing an option that simply doesn't produce the results you expected. Fighting the Battle of the Bulge successfully means that you need to have a positive attitude at all times. It is too easy to become discouraged and make destructive decisions and following advice from reliable sources that turns out to be bad can be just the kind of discouragement you don't need.

As with fashion and paint colors, if you are making decisions for the long haul, it is better to be conservative than to go with the latest trends. When you read or hear of new scientific studies whose advice you might be tempted to follow, the best decision would be to find out if the study is confirming earlier or previous work. If so, odds are that the advice is going to stand the test of time. In the meanwhile, eat fewer calories than you burn and drink lots of water and you'll continue to move in the right direction!

Michael Callen is the author of the Weekly Weightloss Tips Newsletter ( and the Chief Technology Officer for, an online retailer of dozens of health and wellness products such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), r+ alpha lipoic acid (R+ ALA), and Green Tea Extract.


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