A lot of ruckus exploded in the media from a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article itself is titled, “Comparison of [Tag-Tec]weight-loss diets[/Tag-Tec] with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates” (Feb 26, 2008; vol. 360(9): pp. 859-873). It has all of the earmarks of good research: 1) a reputable journal; 2) a famous institution (Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health); 3) a big bunch of professional scientists in the by-line (Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ, Smith SR, Ryan DH, Anton SD, McManus K, Champagne CM, Bishop LM, Laranjo N, Leboff MS, Rood JC, de Jonge L, Greenway FL, Loria CM, Obarzanek E, Williamson DA); and, 4) paid for by just the right government agency (the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health). All of these might fool a non-scientist into thinking that this research answers a nagging question about what the best weight-loss diet is. Indeed, it fooled all of the journalists who trumpeted the article as a guide for the ideal strategy for weight loss.
Get a Different Perspective on Poor Research at Harvard
Unfortunately, this article fell short in so many ways that it is just a big waste of time and taxpayers’ money. The statistics are weak, the comparisons among diets show poor results, the experimental set up was biased and incomplete. Indeed, I could go on and an about how truly bad this article is. It is very unfortunate that biased reporting in the media gave it such a thumbs up. I found a great analysis of all this idiocy by low-carb enthusiast, Jimmy Moore, in his blogpost at: “If New Research Says Weight Loss Is All About The Calories, Then Why Was The Atkins Diet Omitted From The Study?” So rather than me repeating all the good editorializing by Jimmy and the commentary by his visitors (including one by yours truly), I’ll just encourage you to read it for yourself at that link. Enjoy!
I am chagrined, although not surprised, that bad science gets published. This has always been the case. It is a dirty little secret that we scientists are good at hiding. Just thought you’d like to know.
All the best in natural health,