May 8, 2009

Study Finds Dietary Counselling Increases Weight

Scanning today's Science Daily I noticed a report of a study that found that giving pregnant women probiotics decreased their weight gain very significantly. This isn't a surprise. We've learned that there are some gut bacteria that are reliably associated with obesity.

You'll find the report here:

Probiotics May Ward Off Obesity

But here's the interesting part of this study:

Central obesity - defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more or a waist circumference over 80 centimetres - was found in 25% of the women who had been given the probiotics as well as diet advice. That compared with 43% of the women who got dietary counselling alone and 40% of the women who got neither diet advice nor probiotics. The average body fat percentage in the probiotics group was 28%, compared with 29% in the diet advice only group and 30% in the third group
So what they found is that the group that ended up with the fattest subjects was the group of women who'd been given dietary advice 3% more of whom became obese than those who were left completely alone.

Though far fewer of those who got probiotics and advice ended up obese, given how much better subjects did who didn't get dietary advice, you have to wish the study had included a group of subjects were given probiotics without dietary advice. They probably would have done even better.

In case you wondered what the "dietary counselling" consisted of (though most of my readers already can guess, given the results) here it is:
Two of the groups received dietary counselling consistent with what's recommended during pregnancy for healthy weight gain and optimal foetal development. They were also given food such as spreads and salad dressings with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, as well as fibre-enriched pasta and breakfast cereal to take home[emphasis mine].
The researchers provided the average body fat percentage of all three groups--which showed no statistically significant difference between all three groups, because it is the only statistic that gave them the kind of statistic they were looking for--one that make counseling look more effective than doing nothing. In fact, since all three groups had almost identical average body fat, and since averages are a meaningless statistic when the groups differed so significantly in terms of how many individuals were obese, this is a statistical red herring.

In conclusion, this study suggests it might be worth trying probiotics for a few months if you are having trouble losing weight. But just as important this study also tells us: If you want to become obese, go to a nutritionist who is still wedded to the discredited low fat diet religious belief and base your diet around the pasta and cereal she sends you home with. It will work.



Anna said...

Along the same line, people who are practically lifelong Weight Watchers members seem to forever be dieting (and rarely seem to keep their weight loss off long term). I'm sure the WW business model relies on repeat customers (not to mention those horrible prepared dinners and snack products).

Jenny said...


To be fair MOST dieters on ALL diets don't keep their weight off. You have only to follow the Low Carb diet boards to see that LC dieters dieting for weight loss have very few long term successes.

Those of us who diet for blood sugar control do better, but that is because you can control blood sugar on a much less stringent diet than is needed for weight loss.

Plus there's evidence that weight loss of any kind downregulates the metabolism and makes it easier to regain on a lower caloric intake.

Dieting is hell!

ItsTheWooo said...

I am participating in a trial for hypothalamic amenorrhea (which is no periods due to stress/low body weight)... I receive supplemental leptin subcutaneously, because my body does not seem to make it normally after losing 160 pounds (5'5 height, current weight 122, high weight 280). I consider this a "scar" from early life hyperinsulinemia. I do not make leptin because all of the insulin I was exposed to during childhood (when I was chubby, not obese) made my body create a lot of fat cells. Now that I am normal weight due to low insulin, I have many many hypotrophic fat cells. These cells don't make leptin normally because of their small size. Thus, my leptin deficiency is a permanent scar of hyperinsulinemia, much like my excess skin (which visibly has many extra fat cells underneath).

Anyway, you think I would be a curious subject for these medical professionals... someone who has maintained a 160 pound weight loss without drugs, surgery, for 6 years?

Quite the opposite. They treat me like a neurotic for being obsessive about carb control. I refuse to eat the breakfasts they provide. I insist on eggs and butter. They lack even basic knowledge of nutrition, as they continuously offer me food high in carbs when they know for months now I do not eat such things.
Everyone involved in the study treats me like a freak because of my diet. It's really funny. The nutritionist is this boston guy and when I tell him how I eat you can see hes thinking "well, yea, you're a freak! You need carbs duh!"
All of the physicians I have met in this study also seem to be biting their tongue (trying to prevent from telling me my kidneys are going to asplode).

I've met so many research physicians! None of them seem to realize I am living proof that carbohydrate causes obesity. This is what they are studying, too! These docs are all involved in leptin, and leptin is part of the research in obesity/diabetes... NONE OF THEM seem to care I am living proof it's carbs.

Find me one other person who has lost weight like I have, who has kept it off like I have, who does so WITHOUT surgery or limiting carbs. It's impossible. And the surgery only works because it forces you to limit carbs BTW.

Ironically they probably walk away from me thinking to themselves confidently "oh she is only leptin deficient because she doesn't eat carbs". I know that is what they probably think, and it pisses me off, because the opposite is true: I am only leptin deficient BECAUSE I ate carbs when my body was forming, and my fat tissue organ is now damaged from the insulin (google insulin white adipose hyperplasia). Because of this it requires a minimum body weight which is higher than normal or else leptin deficiency occurs (which is unpleasant and forces the body to err toward higher weight until the deficiency is autocorrected by higher weight).

It just really, really pisses me off.

There is no way to show these people that it's carbs/insulin. They just can't get it.

I think the only reason most people can't keep weight off on low carb diets is because most people are either
a) unknowingly running into leptin deficiency (which happens at super-normal weights in people with lifeling obesity due to the damage of early life hyperinsulinemia)
b) Suffering from neurotransmitter imbalances which prevent eating to maintain weight (serotonin deficiencies due to poor sleep/lighting require hyperinsulinemia to maintain balance)
c) Afflicted with another complication that makes it "more than carbs" behind the weight problem

But, almost all people I think will find obesity is as simple as not eating garbage carb food and eating lots of fat... if only people knew to do it. Instead people do stupid crap like eat naked pasta with lean chicken, or veggies with lean protein (also doomed to fail), when if they simply ate gluttonous food like chicken wings and skins everything would fix itself. Chicken wings and blue cheese makes you thin.

renegadediabetic said...

Insanity is doing the same thing over & over again and expecting different results.

I'm one of the former WW repeat customers that Anna mentioned. WW was just a ride on a weight rollercoaster.

Not until I got on low carb did I lose a signficant amount of weight and keep it off. My weight loss has stalled, but my main reason for low carb is to control blood sugar.

Stephan Guyenet said...


Another interesting fact to add to the pot: in the Lyon diet-heart study, the "control" group that died 4X more than the "intervention" group was eating... drumroll... the AHA Prudent diet. Or something similar.

The only thing that was unique about the intervention group as opposed to other trials that were not successful was the decreased n-6 intake and increased n-3.

I'll be posting on this in detail at some point.

Trinkwasser said...

Yep, I bet they were also told to eat nice healthy Omega 6 oils and fruit and stay the hell away from saturated fats too, all factors which tend to worsen the effect of the excess carbs

(Yes Stephan I keep meaning to get around to reading your blog!)

Jenny said...

Stephen's blog is well worth reading!

Nick said...

Jenny, I suppose I am preaching to the choir, but I am so grateful for your blog and Stephan's blog. The impact each of you have had on me by providing a road map to better health is monumental. And I love it that I can have a positive impact on some of my friends by directing them your way.

Thank you, Jenny.