Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Eggs = Greater Weight Loss, Maybe?

Imagine reading this sentence:

The study's results are considered statistically unlikely to be due to chance, but were near the mathematical limit for that distinction.

A convoluted way to say "statistically significant."

More important, when data is crunched and the finding shows significance, there is no "near" distinction - either it's statistically significant or it's not, there is no grey.

Is the above a made up sentence to prep readers before I jump into a piece about statisitics and their interpretation?

Nope, it's from a real article I read about a study that found greater weight loss in overweight or obese women who ate eggs for breakfast compared with women, eating the same calories but eating bagels for breakfast instead.

In the study, 160 overweight or obese women were broken into four groups, including two that had diets about 1,000 calories lower than typical. One special diet group had two eggs as part of breakfast, the other had a bagel instead, though they were the same in calories. The average woman on the egg diet lost six pounds, while women on the bagel diet lost 3.2 pounds, a 65 percent difference. Researchers also reported that waist size dropped 83 percent faster for women on the egg diet. They said that there were not significant changes in cholesterol or triglcerides between the two groups.

The author really should consider a course on brevity and to-the-pointness.


A study, that grouped 160 overwight and obese women into four groups, each consuming 1000-calories less than their baseline diet, found the group allowed eggs for breakfast lost 65% more weight (6-pounds) than the group allowed bagels (3.2-pounds). The researchers also reported no significant differences in cholesterol or triglycerides between groups.

That would be too easy, huh?

But then again, this is from someone who presents statistically significant findings as "unlikely to be due to chance, but were near the mathematical limit for that distinction."

When the data is actually published, I'll see what it really says and report back at that time!


  1. Anonymous2:23 PM

    Would you be so kind as to correct the spelling of convoluted?

    I just discovered you blog... I am enjoying it very much.


  2. Glad you stopped by!

    Spelling error is also corrected, thanks for the heads-up!

  3. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Hi. Love your blog. It always makes my morning when there's something new to read.

    Just a small bone to pick on the issue of "statistical significance". The convoluted statement made by the article's author is clearly nonsense. However, I wouldn't characterize the issue of statistical significance as "black or white" either. "Significance" is a subjective attribute based on whether or not the probability of the hypothesis under test exceeds some arbitrary threshold. Since that threshold is arbitrary, and is generally moved around to suit the purposes of the study authors, I would argue that significance is nothing but "gray".

    Personally, I would rather authors just publish the numbers, and let the reader place their own interpretation, because that's what happens anyway. Everybody can agree that P(H|D,I) is 95% (or whatever the number is). Whether or not that is "significant" is, IMHO, an angels/pinheads discussion. Alas, it doesn't make for good press releases :-)


  4. Anonymous4:05 PM

    I'm confused. I was going to write about this and found this:

    Bagels and eggs... same lead author... but from 2005?


  5. It looks like the 2005 study was what may have led to this new one...the study in 2005 had just 30 subjects and was one day duration for each breakfast type. The researchers concluded that "Compared to an isocaloric, equal weight bagel-based breakfast, the egg-breakfast induced greater satiety and significantly reduced short-term food intake. The potential role of a routine egg breakfast in producing a sustained caloric deficit and consequent weight loss, should be determined."

    Seems they set out to make that determination! I'll watch for the paper when it's published...

  6. Hi Regina

    Jim beat me to it, I also found that preliminary study; I would suspect that this is an extension of it.

    I've always felt that eggs have had a bad press and I'll be having an omelette for breakfast - but I do have a nagging feeling that some of the funding for this may be coming from a battery chicken farm somewhere via an egg producers' co-operative or similar...

    Cheers, Alan

  7. I know this from personal experience. When I switched from a grain-based (mostly whole grains) to an egg breakfast (yummy veggie omlets), I felt more satisfied with breakfast, less mid-morning hunger, diminished cravings, lost weight, improved blood sugar, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure...

    Eggs have been demonized for so long, especially egg yolks, that they just can't admit there could be any benefit from eggs.

  8. I think eating 2 eggs everyday is not healthy for a long run. I have read in an article that egg yolks can contribute to increase in cholesterol levels. Not much of a trade off for weight loss.

  9. It would be great if it were so. It would mean weight loss by just eating omelet for breakfast. This kind of weight loss needs several tests and surveys to prove it's effectiveness.

  10. Hi,
    I find that eggs are great for me. I have changed my diet totally since I realized I am sugar sensitive/addicted on a biochemical level. I am doing the Radiant Recovery program, and I realize now that sugar and whites are the real enemies... the cholesterol causers, etc. I eat a nice portion of protein at each meal along with complex carbs and veggies at lunch and dinner. This is really changing my life and helping me beat my addiction. Thanks for posting about how great eggs are!!

  11. Anonymous9:29 AM

    I have 2 major questions about the study (besides thinking it's shady that HUGE conclusions are being published apparently without supporting details):

    1. Exactly what breakfast diet did the study participants eat? 5 bagels vs. 2 eggs? 5 eggs? Eggs & wheat toast? That seems a pretty important piece of info.

    2. Who funded the study? The Egg Council? The Meat & Dairy Council?

    I'd love any pointers towards answers.

  12. After obtaining the full 2005 study report here:

    Turns out the study is -- GASP!!! -- funded by the "Egg Nutrition Center, United States Department of Agriculture"

    hmmm... the results don't seem so shocking now, just SKEWED (Schroedinger's Hypothesis?). Darn, I wish it were required that EVERY report of a study's finding started with the phrase, "In a study funded by X"...

    Also, I'm betting their claims of weight loss are not long-term...