What’s the easiest way to make any weight loss product seem better and of higher quality? To claim that research has proven that it works.
We live in a scientific age. We all want to know what science says about our diet, habits, fitness routine, etc. We base our decisions on it.
Recently I wrote about Raspberry Ketone pills, a new weight loss craze which is sweeping various countries and how it was promoted on a prestigious TV show with the claims that research has shown how effective it is for fat burning. I then showed that what research did exist was rather flimsy and far from conclusive.
This is what led me to write this article in which I plan to give you a few examples of how weight loss research may be of little bearing on the actual effectiveness of any product or method. Read this post and you will be much more able to tell which “research backed” product or system is genuinely useful or not.
The Lab Conditions Study
Not all studies are performed on living creatures at all. Some are performed in highly controlled lab conditions. For instance, one can look at how raspberry ketone affects fat cells which are in a dish. This is one of the studies which were actually referenced in support of this latest diet craze.
The question is whether looking at fat cells outside the body can really give any idea as to how any element will work on fat inside the body. I hardly think it does. However, this is still “research” and some people may use it to market their product.
Some studies are performed on animals and not humans. This is pretty standard. One often looks at how certain chemicals affect animals before more expensive studies on humans are done.
These studies are usually just a stepping stone on the road to a more conclusive study on real people. Yet, marketers can still say that research has proven that this chemical or that nutritional element has been shown to promote weight loss. They fail to say that this weight loss was found in mice and not humans, so we need to be careful when we read these claims.
Let’s say that there’s a study in which there are two groups of people. Group A uses one fitness routine and group B another. At the end of 6 weeks, group A loses 2 pounds and group B loses just 1 pound. What is the difference between them?
You may say that the difference is 1 pounds of fat loss which, after 6 weeks, isn’t much. However, you may also state this as a 100% difference or say that group A dropped twice the amount that group B did. You would be correct either way, but does it really matter?
In real life, no. However, marketers may use such a study to claim that their fitness product is much more useful than it really is.
Small Number Of Subjects
A study made on 6 people is one thing, a study made on 600 is quite another. The statistical reliability of a study grows the more subjects are in it. Now, a study with a small number of subjects can still be valuable, but it is something that is worth knowing about before you make any purchase decisions of any product which is based on such a study.
Who Funded The Study
Studies which are funded by organizations with a self-interest in certain findings are always cast in doubt. However, corporate funded research can be useful and isn’t always skewed in favor of one outcome. Often, the research will uncover facts which are to the benefit of the funding corporation, but if the research is good and done by a good team of scientists, it can be trusted. However, the funding source should be disclosed in case there is a conflict of interest.
As you can see, there are plenty of potential problems with weight loss related research. This doesn’t include going into the way the research is conducted. You can find nearly all health studies on Pubmed.gov and I urge you to be an informed shopper. An interesting interview I did on how to read fitness research with Mark Young is well worth reading as it will give you some tips on how to go through research and see what it really means.
The main thing is to not let the word Research blind you to the facts. Always check. Be skeptical. It pays off.