Diet & Weight Magazine

What Will I Gain When I Lose?

By Danceswithfat @danceswithfat

bad scienceI started seeing commercials on Hulu for the Special K cereal diet that activated my eyeroll reflex.  The commercials explain that we’re more than a number and then suggest that we should choose another word to be our motivation to go on the Special K diet.  They suggest confidence, self-esteem, beautiful. They end every commercial with the phrase “What will you gain when you lose?”

I checked on the website and they say that they commissioned a study by Edelman Berland that “a positive attitude toward weight management might actually help you succeed.”

Fascinating.  First of all, who the hell is Edelman Berland.  I looked it up – they are not involved in scientific research, but in branding and communications research.  From their site:

Edelman Berland’s primary research offering allows clients to benchmark attitudes and opinions of an industry, company, product, brand or organization before launching a communications campaign.

Right. According to the Kellogs website (not linking you’ll have to Google)  9 out of 10 women who think positively about weight management reported either losing weight or maintaining weight in the past year compared to “only about half” of women with a negative approach.

How is this study highly suspect?  Let me count the ways.  There’s the aforementioned choice of research firms.  Then there’s the methodology – they interviewed “more than 1,000″ women who described themselves as “weight conscious” to find out just what they think about their success or failure. Ok dude, self-reported information on dieting by people who describe themselves as weight conscious talking about what they think led them to succeed or fail at dieting does not a strong study make.  Then there is the fact that they are looking at only a year – we know that most people can lose weight in the short term, but most gain it back within 2-5 years so using a 1 year period does really tell us anything about long term weight loss. Finally I find the wording on the website quite suspect – they report 9 out of 10 women vs. about half.  Why not make a parallel comparison? What constitutes “about half?” 6 out of 10, 7 out of 10?

So, says Special K, all you need is a positive attitude.  Well, a positive attitude and  two special K meals and 2 special K snacks each and every day.  Plus a “sensible meal” that you choose.  They say that the average weight loss is a measly 4-8 pounds but they don’t say over what time period, or how long people keep it off.  And remember the study they commissioned wasn’t about people who did the special K diet, just women who describe themselves as “weight conscious.”  They have absolutely no proof that this plan will lead to long term weight loss, nor that it will lead to health.  They do seem pretty certain that it will lead to profits.

I have a positive attitude – I’m positive that the evidence we have suggests that the vast majority of people who lose weight on this program, or any diet/lifestyle change/etc. will gain it back.  I’m positive that it is sheer jackassery to try to set people up to blame themselves if they fail for not being “positive” enough.  I’m positive that I’m never going back to a dieting lifestyle and the willful suspension of disbelief it would require.

So what will I gain when I lose?  I had to lose my addiction to the pursuit of thin,  but I gained a lot.  Like the ability to see through the emotional manipulation and pseudo-science bullshit of this campaign and know that I can have confidence, self-esteem, happiness, and feel beautiful without eating 1,460 highly processed Special K Products this year.

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