nancylebov: (green leaves)
It's a podcast from New Zealand-- the 05-03-14 entry, from 5:00 to 20:00.

A while ago, I did a casual survey about what people have done to lose weight, and what the outcomes were. I'm interested in the subject because I was getting one narrative from the fat acceptance community (trying to lose weight is very likely to make your life worse) and another narrative from everyone else (trying to lose weight is a reliable way of making your life better).

The interview is at a fat-friendly venue, and I was told I couldn't mention that some people lost weight successfully. I was concerned that I wouldn't have 15 minutes worth of material, but Cat Pause (pause-AY) is a good interviewer, and the interview went well.

I can live with the no-diet-talk rule which exists in some venues. Some people are just sick of diet talk (it's very repetitious), and quite a few have had very bad experiences with trying to lose weight, up to and including eating disorders.

To my mind, a lot of fat acceptance venues have formal rules that limit the conversation, and the mainstream has customs of saying that people only fail to lose weight because they're doing it wrong and/or not trying hard enough which also have a considerable silencing effect. Nuanced discussion of various ways speech gets limited.

One angle the interview reminded me of is the possibility of expanding the survey. Any recommendations for venues? I've been thinking Metafilter. Facebook isn't satisfactory because I want someplace where it will be easy to find the survey again.

Another question is whether it would be possible for anyone to do a big formal survey with random samples-- Cat Pause thought that no one would pay for it. I think it would be expensive, but I don't know how expensive it would be.

Also, any thoughts about questions which would be worth adding? I'm thinking about including age of first attempt to lose weight.
nancylebov: (green leaves)
It's become quite plausible from the survey that some people can lose weight, keep most of it off, and not damage their quality of life by being meticulous about only eating enough to feel comfortable, and that some variant of low carb is frequently a useful tool.

This is not equivalent to saying that all fat people habitually eat past satiation, and it's not equivalent to saying all fat people (including those who habitually eat past satiation) can lose enough weight by moderate methods to meet either medical or social standards.
nancylebov: (green leaves)
This Sunday, 5PM, by Cat Pause (paws-ay), from New Zealand, about my casual survey of the effects of trying to lose weight. I don't know when the interview is going to be online.

Anyway, my conclusions from the discussion are pretty tentative. It seems clear that trying to lose weight is lower-risk than I thought. On the other hand, I've seen enough accounts from the fat acceptance community which include saying that the writer was kidding themself [1] about being better off when their weight was lower. This doesn't mean I suspect any of my commenters in particular, but I'm left wondering. Applying what I consider to be a reasonable level of doubt still means that trying to lose weight is safer than I thought.

It's notable that the success stories are mostly roll-your-own diet/exercise approaches. Not only not using commercial products like Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem, but not even buying books. [livejournal.com profile] osewalrus got good results from a Dr. Kahan (sp?) who helped him optimize habits, with each step producing a gain in quality of life-- a more sophisticated version of benign roll your own.

The reason I say benign roll your own is that anorexics also seem to invent their own diet/exercise regimes. The attitude people start out with is a crucial factor.

It also looks as though the people with the success stories pretty much started out as adults. This is interesting because from what I've read from people with eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia-- I don't know much about binge eating disorder), it seems common to start out with dieting fairly young-- say, before age 15, and (again, casual impression) it doesn't especially matter whether the diet was chosen by the young person or imposed by parents in terms of progression to an eating disorder. Anyone know of research on the subject?

Success stories were typically some sort of low carb.

There was a higher proportion of people with bad outcomes from attempted weight loss on the dreamwidth side of the comments. I have no idea whether there's an actual difference between the dreamwidth and livejournal communities, a statistical anomaly, or whether there was a founder effect so that the two threads seemed more welcoming to different sorts of account.

I'd appreciate it if commenters don't try to give advice to people in general. I think this is an area where there's a lot of human variation, and not a lot of knowledge of the range or percentages of variation.

[1]I consider that to be the most livable non-gendered third person pronoun. I can either look at it with my science fiction fan linguistic flexibility, in which case it looks quite normal, or access my model of people who care about keeping the language stable, in which case it looks very odd.
nancylebov: (green leaves)
I've been hanging around in the fat acceptance community for a while, and there's a strong consensus there that trying to lose weight is a pretty reliable method of making your life worse, with many anecdotes (read the comments-- and they don't even include the stories about eating disorders which started with diets) and some science. On the other hand, for the world in general, mentions of efforts at losing weight get a lot of encouragement and stories about weight loss which improved health and quality of life.

This is a rather striking mismatch. Even better, I've asked at scholarly fat acceptance group about whether there are studies which look at weight loss efforts for the whole population-- how many people have tried what, and what the outcomes have been-- and I haven't gotten any answers. There are studies looking at the results of particular diets, but that's a different question. Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, but it's at least possible that the study I want hasn't been done.

So, I'm going to try some completely informal, unscientific, non-ethics-checked questions to an audience which hasn't been randomly selected. If you've tried to lose weight/fat, what methods have you used? How has it worked out? On the whole, would you say your life is better, worse, or about the same as the result of what you've done to lose weight?

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