More Studies on the Ineffectiveness of Diets

In today’s New York Times, Gina Kolata follows up on this week’s story about low fat diets not having any health benefits. Apparently there were two earlier studies on trying to control childhood obesity, that showed despite strong school based interventions to improve nutrition and exercise, the rate of obesity was unaffected. Those studies were apparently never cited by other papers.

Now cities and states are banning soda and even whole milk in an attempt to reduce childhood obesity.

Dr. Leibel and other skeptics say they are not surprised that, even with two studies showing the ineffectiveness of intervention in schools, communities continue to mandate those same changes. Scientists and the public, said David Freedman, a statistician at the University of California at Berkeley, “have this wonderful capacity for ignoring negative evidence.”

In the case of medical problems people feel compelled to do something to solve it even if they do not know for a fact that the action will actually work. Trying something that has not been proven to work may by justifiable, but pursuing a course that has been demonstrated to not work however is dumb.

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