Friday, February 08, 2008

What Would You Do?

When the prevailing message fails to achieve its intended aims or achieves the wrong ends, the solution is to...?


  1. Radcliffe5:30 PM

    I think it is all a paradigm problem. People think it is obvious that weight loss is related to calories, or fat intake, or even carb intake. I believe in the low carb diet, but for years I struggled to lose weight on that diet. It turns out I was intolerant of certain foods which were "on" the diet, but for me stopped the weight loss process.

    It did this, not because of its calories, or its fat content, or its carb content. It stopped my weight loss because my body had somehow figured out that this food was 'toxic' for me, so my body became defensive when subjected to it.

    Now, back to the problem: Researchers are not considering how individuals react to certain foods. They are searching for the offending foods, rather than considering that the problem might be a systemic problem about how we humans deal with our environment.

    For me, I was sensitive to a certain brand and type of cheese. I liked that cheese, but when I ate it, I stopped losing weight. When I stopped eating that specific cheese, I immediately started losing weight and continued losing weight for more than 70 pounds over 10 months.

    Radcliffe at Radcliffe's Weight Journal

  2. What do I do? Keep talking about my own experience without being disagreeable. Don't let untruths be said in front of me without some note of disagreement, but don't be hostile about it.

    The one I keep hearing is that carb restricted diets may not be heart healthy in the long term. I respond by saying, "It's interesting to hear you say that because I started my carb restricted diet based on the advice of a cardiologist (Dr. Davis) who routinely reverses atherosclerotic plaque with carb restriction." This is a direct contradiction of what they said, but not said in such a way as to provoke a defensive response.

    I always let the statement "That (diet) may work for you, but everyone's different and that may not work for everyone." be said without objection. If they're expecting some sort of response, I'll only say, "That's quite true, but I didn't expect carb restriction to work for me either."

    At some point, the science will overwhelm the "common sense" and whole foods, unprocessed foods, and fatty foods will become acceptable again (just like in France, Switzerland, Spain, etc.). We may have to wait for the current low-fat advocates to retire from the NIH and FDA, but it will happen. With enough people out there mentioning and bringing forward the credible science showing the clear and unambiguous relationship between metabolic syndrome and carbohydrate intake, the word will slowly spread.

    It will just take time.

  3. Hire a better marketing firm? :-)

  4. Anonymous9:06 PM

    Why, the solution is obvious! Scream your message louder and tell people it's their fault the message isn't working for them!

  5. I think that the question, as written, is nearly impossible to answer. If "the message" that you refer to is that low carb nutrition is better, then I don't think that it has failed or has necessarily achieved the wrong ends, and I think that more importantly, that message doesn't exist in isolation. There are other messages out there, and they're broadcast more loudly, and they have more history and weight of government and advertising and the medical establishment and so on. Change of any kind takes time. A paradigm shift takes time. The first time I read the Atkins book, in the 70s, it was basically a collection of ideas without science. Today there is a well-founded body of literature that supports, based on both science and anedotal experience, that this works (in a number of ways and for a number of reasons). The message is making its way through, slowly, but it has to get through a lot of other messages and a lot of white noise, including the basic lack of desire of the basic human being to change much of anything... especially if it requires giving up fries!

    If you consider your question in a much more broad way, fundamentally you either have to change the way the message is delivered, change the way the message is received, or change the things that interfere with the reception of the message. Unfortunately, in general, we have control over only one of those things... and it's fairly weak control, a lot of the time.

  6. The question is about the....

    Dietary Guidelines for Americans!

  7. calianna11:51 AM

    Aha! I wasn't exactly sure what message you were talking about, whether it was that we're all obviously doing something wrong if low fat doesn't deliver as advertised, or something about the problems of trying to control massive carb intake with massive doses of insulin, lowering cholesterol levels with statins which doesn't really lower heart disease rates, etc.

    But yeah, the solution that the gov't will probably come up with is to just shout "low fat" louder, encourage the manufacturers to remove even more fat from food (I can see it now - whole wheat flour made with defatted wheat germ), make it more and more difficult to find foods that have any naturally occuring fat content left in them at all ("new and improved defatted butter!"... It could happen - we already have fat free cream and fat free sour cream), and keep pushing those carbs on everyone, telling them to eat less and move more, yada, yada.

    Other than getting someone to fund so many huge studies comparing truly low carb to typical low fat, in many different ways - so many huge studies that they can't be ignored - I don't know what else can be done.

    The real problem of course is finding someone to fund those huge studies, since we know it won't be the pharmaceutical companies doing it. There's no profit in telling people to eat whole real foods, they'd rather come up with still more medications to make up for the malnourished, obese, diabetic, heart diseased public, so they have no incentive to look for a viable dietary solution.

    In fact it seems almost like a conspiracy right now, since the data from the studies that have been done so far indicate that low fat can't and won't ever deliver as promised, but they keep going down that same road again and again, expecting it to somehow work, if they can only come up with the right combination of drugs.

  8. Obviously it must be to scream it louder and louder while making incremental changes in the message that move it (glacially) in the direction of the truth while blaming anything and everything else for any failures.

  9. Well, that's a really difficult question, isn't it? As you well know, Regina, and as some of your readers undoubtedly know as well, the scientific method doesn't encourage the wholesale throwing out of a theory just because of one or two studies that contradict it. And rightly so - one or two studies don't prove anything. So you can't blame the low-fat, low-calorie people for wanting to protect what they believe is established fact, even if it means throwing out evidence.

    The problem is, they throw out LOTS of evidence. The evidence they throw out is of at least as high a quality as the evidence that supports their hypothesis. People pick on epidemiological studies that show a correlation between low-carb and improved health, but the same people defend the same kind of epidemiological studies when it supports their point.

    Or, as many other people have commented, you can blame the people receiving the message for not following it. :)

    I can't remember where I read this (probably Mark's Daily Apple), but I remember hearing about a study that showed that an Atkins-like diet is better than an Orinish-like or Zone-like diet in improving health (I forget the details). Ornish and Sears were all bent out of shape because most of the study subjects didn't comply fully with the diet. And whatever blog I read about this on, the commenter said, "I don't really get it - low-carb is better for you, even if you don't stick to it faithfully - how is this bad, exactly?"

    Defatted wheat flour, eh? Yeah, that's a little scary.

  10. Hi Regina

    I don't comment often, but do read your blog regularly. I suspect we were thinking very similarly here:

    With ACCORD the devil is in the detail, especially the dietary instructions. See
    go down to 3.5.a.2 Dietary Modification; then look up the NCEP Step I diet and the TLC extension for diabetics here

    I think you'll see what I'm suggesting.

    I'm still reading before saying much more; there are so many papers involved.

    Cheers, Alan, T2, Australia

  11. "When the prevailing message fails to achieve its intended aims or achieves the wrong ends, the solution is to...?"

    Keep repeating it over and over for 30 years, eventually everyone will believe it even if it is totally false! Be sure to chastise, censure and humiliate anyone who disagrees with the message and get a few popular politicians lined up with your message too.

  12. Steve9:43 AM

    The noble intended ends justify the means, so redouble your efforts, resort to shaming the victims as lazy gluttons, and keep everyone focused by labeling distracting alternative methods or research as quackery.