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.