Dr. Brian M. Scott, a mathematics professor at Cleveland State University, once said to me, “If you know one expert, you know all the answers. If you know two, you’ll never be certain.” I have repeated this bit of wisdom more times than I care to calculate (probably because I’d be wrong), and Scientific American’s “Can Fat Be Fit?” interviewee Paul Raeburn reinforces this view when discussing his opinion that being somewhat overweight isn’t a bad thing as long as you’re also exercising:

The statistical things are very tricky and I wouldn’t sit here and say that I can go through all the mathematical minutiae and analyze what’s going on — far from it; I can’t get into the nuts and bolts at all. It really requires a professional, and the evidence for that of course is that the professionals argue madly over these things about whose right and whose handling the statistics correctly.

Go to their section on “The Science of Weight Loss” and you may find yourself confused about exactly what the right answer is. For example, the article “Does Exercise Really Make You Healthier?” doesn’t really answer the question, as the experts seem to be saying, well, generally yes, but there are exceptions, and we don’t really know why.

So what should we laypeople believe, when things like this, back in 2005,  have happened:

Dr. Julie Gerberding, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued a rare and curious apology. She apologized for the mixed messages and contradictory studies regarding the dangers of obesity, acknowledging that flawed data in several CDC studies had overstated the risks.

The article goes on to say, well, folks, be skeptical of what you read. Well, gee, thanks.

As I indicated in an earlier post, there are studies that support the contention that interval training, or mixed difficulty exercises, such as CrossFit are actually better for weight loss and increased fitness. There’s also a study saying that the kind of diet CrossFit advocates will make you feel more satisfied and, presumably, will make you eat less overall:

Eating fewer, regular-sized meals with higher amounts of lean protein can make one feel more full than eating smaller, more frequent meals, according to new research from Purdue University.

One of my favorite studies is the one that says that obesity is spread socially:

The people we associate with can have a powerful effect on our behavior—for better or for worse. This holds true for human health and body mass, too. The heavier our close friends and family, the heavier we are likely to be.

Don’t know how that works in my reality; I’m usually the heaviest, by a wide margin (excuse the bad pun), in any of my social groups. But maybe it’s not the peer pressure, but simply that you “caught it” from them:

Obesity can be “caught” as easily as a common cold from other people’s coughs, sneezes and dirty hands.

That would certainly take us fatties off the hook.

Then there’s this, that could give a deconditioned fattie like me an excuse to ditch the exercise for the nearest fad diet, from an article headlined as “Study: Exercise Won’t Cure Obesity“:

Though better nutrition coupled with exercise has long been the favored prescription for losing weight and avoiding obesity, a new study suggests diet actually plays the key role.

Lovely.  But I never thought exercise on its own would make you lose weight. But I am convinced, at least for me, that I won’t be able to keep it off unless I exercise. Losing weight? That’s another thing entirely. I can’t say for certain that you can’t lose weight just by exercising, but it doesn’t sound like the scientists know for sure either. All I know is I feel better and am more motivated to watch my food intake since I started CrossFit.

Think there’s a study on that? Wait. I am my study on that. So there.


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