Thursday, August 04, 2016
More on the obesity "war"
The latest folly about this: JAMA has an article recently up called Weight Gain Not an Issue With Mediterranean Diet by Anita Slomski (M.A.). One would have hoped that a Humanities degree would have made Anita more knowledgeable about people than the average laboratory researcher but it seems not to be the case.
Her conclusion has already been widely quoted so a corrective to it is obviously needed. The population she studied consisted of overweight diabetics so does a creeping doubt arise from that? Is that a good population to generalize from? Is what is true of them likely to be true of all of us? I suggest not. But it is actually worse than that. Here is a fuller description of the study population:
It is difficult to see how you can draw any generalizations from that set of contrasts. Even the two "Mediterranean" populations were not regular eaters of a Mediterranean diet but eaters of an "enriched" diet. Clearly, the study population was not suitable for drawing ANY inferences about the Mediterranean diet.
It is of course all very well to be negative but can I offer better data bearing on the issue? I can. And it's real life data. It's not quantified, sadly, but it is so obvious as to be in little need of that.
I grew up in a Mediterranean village. It was also an Australian country town, but an exceedingly multicultural one. About half of the population of Innisfail was of Mediterranean origin, mostly Italians but with Greeks and Spaniards too. They were basically impoverished peasant farmers who had fled the hard soils of their homelands for the rich and very well-watered soils of the Australian tropics. So I think they offer far more in the way of generalizability than most medical studies that I have seen
And what was there about these Mediterranean folk that was extremely obvious? After their first flush of youth, they were, to put it politely, very "pyknic" in build. "Stout" would be another word for it. Weight gain they had in spades on their Mediterranean diets. Anita Slomski has got it exactly backwards.
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).