Well no, you won’t lose weight, but you could get cancer

So a post over at Fat Chicks Rule pointed me to a very interesting article that I wanted to share and give a little lime-light for a moment as we approach the lovely day of May 6th (International No Diet Day).  The tag-line for the article in question?  Simply: “Dieting can cause heart disease, cancer”.  Considering that this was coming from Yahoo! News, I figured I’d read on anyway to see if this somehow turned into a “Ha-HA!  Got you to read my Reuters news bit.  No really, fatties are fat and gonna die…”  Very refreshingly I instead read:

The study revealed that those who controlled their calorie intake produced higher levels of the harmful stress hormone cortisol and exposure to the hormone actually made some dieters put on weight, reports dailymail.co.uk.

Dieting could actually damage mental health too as many suffered increased psychological stress when they were constantly forced to count calories and monitor what they ate.

‘Regardless of their success or failure (in losing weight), if future studies show that dieting increases stress and cortisol, doctors may need to rethink recommending it to their patients to improve health,’ the researchers said.

The study, by California University in San Francisco and Minnesota University, looked at 121 women who were put on a standard three-week diet of 1,200 calories a day – around half a woman’s recommended daily amount of 2,000 calories.

Chronic stress, in addition to promoting weight gain, has been linked with coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Dieting might potentially add to this stress burden and its consequences would best not be ignored,” they added. (Emphasis is mine)

Now, as with any study working to show correlations and instead jumping right to causation, this study (especially with a relatively small sample size and no indication of whether or not the sample was random or not, etc) still needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  The uplifting bit for me is the call for future studies to address the incredible stress generated for those on constant diets.  I’m also curious as to how stress levels change for folks on this “standard diet of 1,200 calories” (or even less as many of us have tried to sustain in our bleak dieting histories) who do so for MORE than this study’s three weeks.  How does repeated diet yo-yo-ing affect these cortisone levels?  Will any future studies actually be brought to light if they DO reveal that dieters decrease their health markers each time they (we?) venture forth into the fewer calories-more movement arena of dieting? But then, maybe folks in the above study just didn’t hate themselves enough to lose weight without stress…or something.

At the very least; this gives me hope for future work to be done.  But it also fills me with a bit of  trepidation.  If people lose that go-ahead green light to troll on fatties “for their health”; whatever will the next target be?*  People who are stressed? What would be the next health concern to attack with such religious-esque fervor?  Inquiring minds are almost afraid to ask…

Interestingly and perhaps even related, searching the exact title for this piece in Google only brings up 3 results before we get to other topics about high-fat diets causing who knows what.  Counter that with the plethora of results you will get by typing in “being fat will cause…” and it is eye-popping to compare just how LITTLE coverage this study got in comparison with all the other drivel out there. News Media?  Has an agenda to push to sell advertising space to folks who count on making money on your own personal dissatisfaction with your life/body/etc?  Who would think that???  Did I say that “out loud”? Hmmm.

It has me thinking at any rate.  Like the Lane Bryant ad which dares to show that a woman can not only be as fat as the average woman but also exude dominant sexuality, perhaps the dismal rate at which we see any study results which suggest it might be HEALTHIER to stop stressing out and hating on your body might just be a tad disadvantageous to marketers whose main message is “Your body/life/car/kids Are Not Perfect!  Our Product Will Change That (results may vary)!”  Some food for thought, nay?

*Though I find it hard to believe that losing the thin veil of concern that health mongers cling to would ever terminate their lusty zeal for tearing down anyone they deem unappealing or, sorry “unhealthy”.  Some people just love to spread misery like dung on a field and would have no problems doing so whether or not the “excuse” of caring for all of our “health” actually existed.

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10 thoughts on “Well no, you won’t lose weight, but you could get cancer

  1. If people lose that go-ahead green light to troll on fatties “for their health”; whatever will the next target be?* People who are stressed?

    If this leads to a National Initiative to Reduce Stress Among the Population or something, YES PLEASE! Just try to imagine that for a moment – meditation breaks at work! Rewards for staying home when you’re sick! Employers and teachers paying more attention to bullying! Ah, we can dream …

    • Tiana indeed I think that is a lovely dream if it would go that way. Sick days for “mental health days” to enjoy life and reduce stress. Work group programs which, instead of marking how much lower your weight may have gone, instead measure how long you’re able to just relax.

  2. Tiana, I think that’d be *fantastic* if they’d do it right. (I have a huge, huge rant about making people go to work when they’re sick, but that’s only a tangent to the main topic.)

    My worry is that lowering your stress level would just get piled onto the list of things you’re supposed to do, and like weight, it’d be looked at as your fault if you couldn’t maintain it.

  3. KellyK, I thought about it and figured that people couldn’t possibly be that stupid, but maybe I’m too much of an optimist …

    • Sadly I could too easily see things devolve as well: “10% bonus to the least-stressed employee!” “How low-stress are you? Lowest blood pressure gets a free day off…” or something to that effect. Bah. But maybe I’m just being negative. I shall take on Tiana’s happier perspective and hope for better…

  4. If people lose that go-ahead green light to troll on fatties “for their health”; whatever will the next target be?

    I’ve often wondered this myself if fat acceptance triumphs in getting fat people’s voices heard.

    I also agree with you that I’m sceptical that debunking dieting would be enough to achieve the end of fat hating.

    Look at weight loss surgery, it’s clear that’s not very good for your health or mortality. They just say, “that’s still a better prognosis than being fat”.

  5. KellyK, I thought about it and figured that people couldn’t possibly be that stupid, but maybe I’m too much of an optimist …

    Definitely too optimistic ;-).

    Doctors stress-shaming instead of weight-shaming (or, God help us all, doing both). Workplace stress initiatives that dock your pay if your “stress score” is too high. (But they pay for “lifestyle coaching sessions” who make impractical or harmful suggestions.) Project De-stress, run out of the CDC, with lots of propaganda aimed at encouraging employers to fire (or not hire) employees with high cortisol levels because “they cost money” and are “less productive”. Incessant newspaper articles about “Are YOUR stress levels too high? Learn more!” “How to measure your stress level at home!” “Stress: Is your child at risk?”

  6. Pingback: Happy International No-Diet Day « Living ~400lbs

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