fitness · weight loss · weight stigma

Weight watchers is not kid stuff; what about other programs?

Since Weight Watches announced its program targeting teenagers, there’s been a flurry of posts here, chock-full of information and perspective.

One of Sam’s recent posts has (among other things) pointed to research on fat shaming. There are severely harmful physical and psychological effects of identifying children as fat (calling them fat or overweight, treating them as fat, subjecting them to dieting, etc.)   Enrolling a child in Weight Watchers is a guaranteed way to label them as fat.

While we’re talking about studies, the data on the long-term effectiveness of Weight Watchers (or any commercial diet program) is not promising.  A 2015 systematic review  of commercial diet programs suggests that, in the very short term (3-12 months, mostly 3—6 months), Weight Watchers might produce a slightly higher incidence of >5% body weight loss in some populations (all adult) than self-directed dieting, but in the longer term (>12 months), we either have no data, or the data show weight regains (and then some).

Tracy’s post on dieting and magical thinking really gets at the psychological pitfalls of yearning for some way to transform our and our children’s bodies into shapes and sizes that conform to medical guidelines and BMI charts.  It’s an illusion, one that does us and our children much harm.

So, taking Sam’s challenge to heart—if not weight watchers for children, then what?—I decided to look around town to see what programs were on offer.

As some of you know, I live in Boston, which is a very good place to be sick; we have highly-rated hospitals to treat whatever ails you.  I found out from my friend Janet, who’s a health care provider, about the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children’s Hospital.  It’s associated with (and I assume partly funded by) New Balance  (the athletic shoe manufacturer), which has a named Obesity Prevention Center and also sponsors the OWL program at Boston area community health centers.

The OWL program is for families who are worried about their children’s weight and risks for type 2 diabetes, or who have children with type 2 diabetes.  After doing a bunch of medical tests, the treatment services focus on nutritional counseling and individual behavior modification.  Some group therapy is offered, and follow up is required for at least 6 months.  They tend to favor a low-glycemic index diet (one of their directors is David Ludwig, who leads research investigating and has written popular books promoting low-glycemic index diets; look here  for research and here for popular books).

I have to say, I really like the approach they use in the OWL programs at community health centers.  Here’s what they do:

10-week comprehensive program that introduces families to healthful eating and supports them in making changes to benefit their entire family.  The program offers group and individual counseling and is led by a dietitian and psychologist from the OWL clinic.  Group discussions and interactive activities allow for peer support, skill building and knowledge sharing. 

The first six weeks are spent in a group format.  For the groups, parents and youth are separated and both groups discuss the same educational topic.  Following the educational intervention, the groups unite for a healthy meal and a question and answer session.  Each class concludes with a hands-on activity to reinforce the main messages.  Upon completion of the groups participants attend 2-4 weeks of individual counseling with the dietitian and psychologist to develop behavior change strategies to support individual goals. 

Through the program, patients learn:

  • How to shop for and prepare balanced meals and snacks
  • How sleep and screen time impact health
  • How small changes can be implemented to benefit the entire family
  • How to address body image and bullying

All of this sounds reasonable, comprehensive and evidence-based.  By the way, what’s good for the goslings is also good for those of us on the spectrum from geese to ganders—that is, adults can also use support around shopping, screens, sleep, small changes, body images and fat shaming/bullying/harassment.

But I don’t like the name of the program—Optimal Weight for Life.  Yeah, it’s cool to have OWL as your acronym.  You could give away T-shirts with owls on them, or maybe even have an owl-petting room at the hospital.  It’s already been done in Japan at this café, and I hear it’s popular.

Here are my three problems with the name OWL– Optimal Weight for Life:

1.Optimal.  Why do we have to be optimal? That’s a pretty high bar to set.  There are lots of reasons and causes for a child to be of non-optimal weight.  Maybe it’s not an optimal time in a kid’s development to be optimal.  I’m not a parent, but I have observed my niece’s and nephews’ growth patterns over time, and their sizes and shapes and heights don’t increase in perfect synchrony. It’s just not the way human growth works (as Sam pointed out about her own kids). Sometimes they are shorter and wider, and sometimes longer and narrower, and this varies over time and across people.

Also, who says that optimality should be the goal?  We know from epidemiological studies (and by looking around in the world) that there’s a range of body weights, shapes, sizes, influenced by a host of factors, many of which we have no control over.  What makes “optimal” optimal is presumably association of a class of body weights with lowered risk factors for disease; otherwise, this is just a matter of aesthetics/conventions, right?  When we dive deep into that data vortex, I argue that, given both the intractability of long-term weight loss and the small or nonexistent shifts in relative risk profiles that come with some weight changes, setting “optimal” weight as a general patient goal is both unrealistic and unnecessary.

2. Weight. Why do we have to focus on weight? Why not health? There are lots of metrics that track health quite well, and weight is arguably not one of them. Yes, this is a contested position, but it’s held by lots of medical and public health experts.  Physical activity happens to be one of those metrics.  See here for results of a very large European study showing strong association between even small increases in physical activity and lowered all-cause mortality risk.

3. For Life. That sounds scary to me. Why?  Because it seems controlling, demanding, and not understanding about the ups and downs of our experiences through the life trajectory.  There are going to be times in every child’s life when their physical state will be non-optimal.  This is not a cause for panic, and it may not even indicate that anything is wrong. So, setting people up with this humongous and unrealistic (yes, I said that before—it’s still true) goal is not very nice and not, uh, well, realistic.

We’ve got a lot to learn about how to help people identify, move toward and find some stability around health-according-to-them.  Owls are a great symbol, but how about we go with more variation, in keeping with our own glorious variation?  I have something like this in mind, but need help with names/acronyms.  Any thoughts?

Animated brightly colored animals of all types, shapes and sizes.


body image · diets · eating · fat · fitness · weight loss · weight stigma

The new health target of the century: kids

The news made the rounds of the health at every size (HAES) contacts I have in my social networks. I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that Weight Watchers was offering free six-week memberships to 13 year olds, and yet I was.

Shortly after that, I learned the makers of FitBit were launching a fitness tracker for children. According to TechCrunch, the makers of FitBit are targetting the eight- to 13-year-old market because as the Telegraph noted, we need to do something about getting “couch potato kids” off the couch and into the gym.

Because child obesity y’all. (Insert eye roll here.)

I’ll admit I’ve been on diets, and I also have used a FitBit (see this post for how I use mine). I went on my first diet with WW when I was 14 and I needed my mom to sign for me. I can’t say it was a success because despite an endless variety of diet plans, I have continued to be my own fun-sized self and not the one society said I should be.

I stopped dieting when I reached my 40s. I read the literature, I looked at the research, and I considered the methodology of the studies. These days I try to eat most of my fruits and veggies every day, be moderate about my meat consumption, and add more whole grains, beans, pulses, and fish to my plate.

I still eat chocolate, potato chips and ice cream treats on occasion, but I am more mindful about my daily choices. And when I really, really want the chocolate bar, I go for the good stuff and thoroughly enjoy it.

Diets are all about deprivation, regardless of how they are marketed. And they don’t work. The problem with marketing to teens, especially teen girls, is they already have a decade of misdirection on what a female body is supposed to look like behind them. All those messages have been accumulating and Weight Watchers is stepping up to take advantage of the anxiety-fertilized soil to grow their market.

Ultimately, the only thing the plan will do is teach girls deprivation is the norm, their bodies at 13 are unacceptable, and it is on them to change their bodies rather than society change its expectations for the form expected for women.

At first blush, there shouldn’t really be an issue with creating a tool for kids. However, there are many people who see the number of steps reached as tacit permission to indulge. Weight Watchers for awhile had an exercise component that allowed users to collect food points through exercise and then spend them on either more, or fun type foods.

Many of these exercise tools track not only steps or other types of activities but also calories and weight. If you want off the diet train and onto the gym track, it can be very hard to find a gadget or tool that doesn’t link weight and fitness. In fact, it is one of the reasons I and my trainer make a point to track personal records that are strength based instead of scale based.

Whatever your size, age and body type, we are, at least in North America, a more sedentary society. Television, junk foods and in house gaming systems are factors in the higher weights we are seeing. But the problem with marketing fitness gadgets to kids is that after awhile the appeal is going to fade. While gamification of anything works effectively in the short term for setting goals, once kids and youth get where they want to be, there isn’t a point to doing it anymore and it stops being fun.

A co-blogger on this site shared with me some thoughts she and her sister had about the Fitbit and they echo mine: “My experience with fitbits with grown ups is they don’t understand the correlation between steps and food so it almost gives them more ‘permission’ to eat that piece of cake or whatever. I only know two people who use it in the way it was designed (make sure I get in my steps to stay fit) and they are both people who would be fit anyway. For kids, it’s a good awareness raiser and a ‘game’ but if it becomes the gadget it kind of loses its function.”

My co-blogger’s sister also made an important point that links to unpacking, resisting, or creating a new culture around fitness: “Fitness especially in kids comes from values, habits, home discussions, role modelling, fun activities, and doing things that don’t seem like fitness to the kid.”

Doing things that don’t seem like fitness are often more fun when you don’t have the “must” factor. Even I think it is more useful to say to myself: “It’s a gorgeous day out — let’s go for a walk!” instead of “I need to get 2500 more steps in to meet my time for today’s fitness.”

While I think the offer from WW for 13-year-olds is more problematic than FitBit’s plan to extend its market share by focusing on kids, I do believe we need to think carefully about how we look to change the behaviour of children when it comes to eating and moving.

Because in some respects is not how we change the behaviour, but why we feel it is necessary in the first place.

— Martha enjoys getting her fit on with powerlifting, swimming, and trail walking.

weight loss

You are exercising to lose weight and you aren’t losing any, what now?

Image description: A photo of a winding road in Iceland with lupins by the roadside
Image description: A photo of a winding road in Iceland with lupins by the roadside. Photo from Unsplash.

So maybe you set out to do things differently in 2018. Your plan was to go to the gym, tidy up your diet, drop a dress size or two. Suppose though that instead you went to the gym, and maybe even cut out the cookies and the chips, and didn’t lose any weight. It’s a common story. It’s my story usually.

So what now?

Should you just quit trying? Quit exercising?

There are dozens of lists on this topic, reasons to keep exercising that aren’t about weight loss.

Here’s my favorite because it’s the longest. It’s 45 reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss.

There are lots of good reasons for severing the tie between exercise and weight loss. For lots of us it just doesn’t happen. See my post on plus size endurance athletes.

Also I worry it sends the wrong message to thin people.

So here are my favorite reasons for working out that have nothing to do with dropping a dress size.

1. The immediate thing is that it feels good. I always feel better after.

2. For me, exercise is usually social. It’s fun. It’s friends. Sometimes it’s family too. Often dogs are involved.

3. The health benefits of exercise go far beyond weight loss.

4. Even the looks related benefits go beyond weight loss. I may not lose weight but I like building muscle. Exercise makes my posture better too.

5. Then there’s the not so immediate things like sports performance, everyday functional fitness.

6. And then there are the distant goals. I want to still be hiking in my 80s.

How about you? Why do you exercise? What non weight related goals motivate you?

diets · eating · fitness · Throwback Thursday · weight loss

Let’s Talk about the Myth of the Skinny Vegan Bitch #tbt

Here’s a #tbt for you from four years ago. Though I would venture that veganism is more popular now than it was then, and is gaining followers all the time, myths still abound. And one of them is that you’ll get skinny real fast if you opt to eat a thoroughly plant-based diet. You won’t necessarily lose weight at all. But that’s not a reason not to try it. Another myth is that you can’t possibly retain muscle if you’re vegan. You can! I’ll write about that sometime next month. Meanwhile, enjoy this old post. I’m vegan, but I’m neither skinny nor a bitch (or so I like to think anyway)!


vegan-food-cc-300x400Here’s how the first installment in the Skinny Bitch series (authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin) starts:

Are you sick and tired of being fat?  Good. If you can’t take one more day of self-loathing, you’re ready to get skinny...

This is not a diet. This is a way of life. A way to enjoy food. A way to feel healthy, clean, energized and pure. It’s time to reclaim your mind and body. It’s time to strut your skinny ass down the street liek you’re in an episode of Charlie’s Angels with some really cool song playing in the background. It’s time to prance around in a thong like you rule the world. It’s time to get skinny.

It sounds almost empowering.  Almost.

The first red flag?  If you’re full of self-loathing then…wait for it…getting skinny is the answer!  If that’s not clear from the introduction, it is made…

View original post 656 more words

body image · fitness · weight loss

My new scale doesn’t tell me what I weigh, and I like it that way

I really hate scales.  I think I’m not alone here.  There are loads of comic strips with scale jokes, but I will spare you because they all seem to presuppose that the scale is an authoritative judge and we are the irrational defendants whose weight is a crime.

And with respect to this scale hatred narrative, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  If you weigh yourself, then you’re generally appalled or ashamed or enraged or depressed.  If you don’t weigh yourself, then you’re avoiding your responsibility, which is to confront the reality which is the numerical judgment of your total worth.

Okay, maybe that sounds a bit dramatic, but this is the story that whispers in our ears from time to time.

I went to a conference in the Netherlands in June, and the keynote speaker was a behavioral economist named Dan Ariely.  He works on lots of ways to better understand why we behave in various ways, and to figure out some ways to help us achieve some of our goals that we have trouble with (e.g. saving money, losing weight, etc.) .

In this talk, Ariely mentioned a study his group did in which they tested out a hypothesis:  that weighing yourself every day helps you focus on health goals, and may help with weight loss.  This is something lots of medical experts also believe, but it hasn’t been tested.  The problem is:  people hate weighing themselves.  Why?  Well, if you weigh yourself, says Ariely, one of three things will happen:

  1. You’ve gained weight, in which case you’re depressed.
  2. You’re the same, in which case you’re not happy (because you haven’t lost weight).
  3. You’ve lost weight, in which case you become anxious about the next time you have to weigh yourself, worrying that you might regain some of what you lost.

When you put it that way, it sounds unpleasant all around.

Part of the problem with scales is that they register changes all the time because our bodies are changing in weight all the time.    Body weight has very high variance– we can fluctuate up or down 2kg or more in any given day, and it doesn’t mean anything.  There are scales on the market now that register one-tenth of a pound change.  This is really irritating to me, as there’s nothing good about this information– it’s just part of the noise of the variance, but it has the power to make me feel really bad.

Of course there’s a really simple solution to this problem:  don’t weigh yourself.  That’s a perfectly fine option.  Lots of folks who write for this blog and who read this blog do (or rather, don’t do) exactly that.  I say huzzah to that.

But for me, I can’t seem to leave this scale thing alone.  This is because I do want to track my weight changes over time and because I do have health goals that involve weight loss if possible (yeah, these things are complicated; you all know this as well as I do).

Enter the scale that doesn’t tell me what I weigh.  Here it is:

The Shapa scale, a bright orange disc on my bathroom floor with a white S in the middle.
The Shapa scale, a bright orange disc on my bathroom floor with a white S in the middle.

Ariely and his team had an idea:  we don’t really need to know how much we weigh.  What we need to know over time is whether our weight is the same, up a little, down a little, up a little more, or down a little more.  So they developed this scale, called Shapa, that does just that.  It comes bluetooth enabled, with an app on your phone.  Part of the screen looks like this:

A screenshot from the Shapa app, with daily weigh in info (when you weighed yourself) and an optional mission for some activity or cooking.
A screenshot from the Shapa app, with daily weigh in info (when you weighed yourself) and an optional mission for some activity or cooking.

You bring your phone with you to where the scale is, and weigh yourself.  It takes a few weeks for Shapa to calibrate what your average weight is, and what your weight variance is over time.  Once it does that (and it won’t tell you those weights even if you ask nicely!), then when you weigh yourself, it will give you a message and a color.  Mine today looked like this:

A screenshot of the results of my weighing myself- I'm blue, which means "good", which means my weight is the same.
A screenshot of the results of my weighing myself- I’m blue, which means “good”, which means my weight is the same.

The scale keeps the weight variance to itself, and just tells you whether you’re the same, up (one or two standard deviations from the mean) or down (one or two standard deviations from the mean).  Though it says this in a more encouraging and colorful way.

I love this.  What I want to know is how my weight is responding to any changes in my activity or eating, and this scale tells me that without the burden of all those fluctuations which just vex me.  Of course, our clothes and mirrors and partners and selves and other cues can tell us about our bodies.  But I really do like this.  I like the daily attention to myself, and it’s offering me an occasion to think more about what sorts of changes I can or want to make to see if I can effect weight change over time.  And it is also telling me that weight isn’t the only thing that matters.  My weight has stayed the same over the past 6 weeks since I got the Shapa scale, but I feel like my clothes are a little looser.  This is probably because I’m in better physical shape (thank you Bike Rally for motivating me!).

That’s interesting information for me, too– that I can feel better, do more of what I ask of my body, and feel better in my clothes in the face of silence on the part of my scale.  Maybe I like that best of all.

What about y’all, dear readers?  Do you have a relationship with scales?  What is it?  What do you think about this crazy idea of a scale that refuses to tell you what you weigh?  I’d love to hear from you.

fitness · weight loss

Cutting off our noses in service of our waistlines

As long as there is a wave of fat phobia and moral panic over body weight out there in the science journalism world, we will never be at a loss for something to write about here at Fit is a Feminist Issue.

Here’s the latest headline:

News headline: Just smelling food can make you fat, UC Berkeley study says
News headline: Just smelling food can make you fat, UC Berkeley study says

Is this true?

Graphic saying NO, of course not!

So what’s the deal here?  Well…

Graphic saying "It's complicated".

The news article (found here) summarizes the study below:

…a sense of smell can influence the brain’s decision to burn fat or store it in the body — or a least the bodies of mice.

Researchers Andrew Dillin and Celine Riera studied three groups of mice — normal mice, “super-smellers” and ones without a sense of smell — and saw a direct correlation between their ability to smell and how much weight they gained from a high-fat, “Burger King diet,” Dillin said.

Each mouse ate the same amount of food, but those with a super sense of smell gained the most weight. 

The normal mice ballooned, too — up to 100 percent from the weight they were when the research started.

But the mice who couldn’t smell anything gained only 10 percent of their weight. Obese mice who had their sense of smell wiped out slimmed down to the size of normal counterparts without a change in diet.

Riera said the study, which was published this month in the journal Cell Metabolism, reveals that outside influences such as smell can affect the brain’s functions related to appetite and metabolism.

Okay, that’s fairly interesting.  Looking at the actual article, we see that what it is really about is:

[discovery of] a new bidirectional function for the olfactory system in controlling energy homeostasis in response to sensory and hormonal signals.

That is, Riera et al. found an intriguing new piece of the puzzle of how olfactory (sense of smell) functions interact with the hypothalamus in metabolism regulation.

But it ends with a bang:

the potential of modulating olfactory signals in the context of the metabolic syndrome or diabetes is attractive. The data presented here show that even relatively short-term loss of smell improves metabolic health and weight loss, despite the negative consequences of being on a [high-fat] diet.

Whoa. Hold on a minute.  It sounds like they are suggesting that a plausible treatment for humans (that is, us) in service of weight loss would be to wipe out our sense of smell.  Is that what they’re saying? Well, yeah.

And the news article gleefully reports this:

Using the study’s methods in humans could be possible.

After eating, a person’s sense of smell decreases. So, if a person was eating with a lessened sense of smell, the brain could be tricked into thinking it’s already been fed and choose to burn the calories instead of store them, Riera said.

People struggling with obesity could have their sense of smell wiped out or temporarily reduced to help them control cravings and burn calories and fat faster.

But the article and researchers acknowledge that this “treatment” comes with risks.

Ya think?

Loss of sense of smell is common in chemotherapy, and occurs in a number of diseases and in the course of aging.  This results not only in weight loss but also nutritional deficiencies and other health problems.  In short, it’s not good.

And, it turns out, this is also true:

The mice in the study who lost their sense of smell also saw a significant increase in the hormone noradrenaline — a stress response from the nervous system that can lead to a heart attack if levels are too high.

So let me get this straight:  loss (even temporary) of someone’s sense of smell is associated with adverse health outcomes, including increased risk of heart attack.  And yet this is being considered for humans?

Yes, apparently:

“Maybe once a year you block your sense of smell for a while and then you lose the weight from the year and do it all over again,” Dillin said. “We don’t know yet. There’s a lot we still need to do.”

Yes, there’s a lot you need to do.  Like read up on the literature on the adverse health and other effects of yo-yo weight changes.  And while you’re at it, maybe read a medical ethics book too. And medical history.

My apologies for the snark, but this extreme approach to medical treatments for body weight change and maintenance is not new.  Some of you may recall that in the 70s and 80s, jaw wiring was an approved medical treatment for weight loss.

A picture of a person's mouth, open and showing upper and lower teeth on the side wired together with orthodontia
A picture of a person’s mouth, open and showing upper and lower teeth on the side wired together with orthodontia.

This was not a fringe thing.  Here’s an article in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet from 1977, studying the effects of jaw wiring in patients.  They note that patients lost weight, although

Two-thirds of the patients, however, regained some weight after the wires were removed.

Of course they did–  they were physically unable to eat solid food by the mechanical devices that clamped their jaws together.  They were literally starved.

This form of treatment has fallen out of favor (thank goodness), but hasn’t disappeared completely.  Here’s a current orthodontist website advertising this treatment, and encouraging other dental professionals to get on the jaw wiring bandwagon.

So, wrapping up:  while it is interesting to learn new features of the complicated interactive metabolic processes of mice, and see to what extent those processes are also present in humans, we need to take a big long pause before considering any treatment applications, for a host of reasons, both medical and ethical.

The nose knows a lot; let’s keep smelling.

A picture of a person's nose, smelling a slice of pink grapefruit.
A picture of a person’s nose, smelling a slice of pink grapefruit.








fitness · weight loss

Every gram is dangerous, or the newest scary BMI news

Sorry to interrupt your holiday weekend (if you’re in Canada or the US) or just your placid Sunday/busy Monday (if you’re somewhere else), but I have to let y’all know that, according to the latest childhood obesity research from the journal Pediatrics, we have to watch out for risks of gaining even a few grams of potential weight gain (much less pounds or kilos).

What am I talking about here?  This headline:

Headline from CNN news story: WIll 100% fruit juice make your child gain weight?

Spoiler:  the answer is no, or at most hardly at all.

But that of course does not sell newspapers, or as they say now, result in lots of click-throughs (actually, I’m not sure what they say now.  Anyone know?  Please tell me).

This research article is about the potential weight gain risks for children of drinking 6–8 ounces (18–23 cl) of 100% fruit juice a day.  When I posted this article on Facebook, a friend commented that fruit juice is bad for kids because it’s bad for their teeth.  There’s evidence for that claim and it seems reasonable.  It’s also included in this research article on recommendations on fruit juice intake for children and adolescents.

So what does the BMI article say?

First, a few numbers, from the article:

1 daily 6- to 8-oz serving increment of 100% fruit juice was associated with a 0.003 (95% CI: 0.001 to 0.004) unit increase in BMI z score over 1 year in children of all ages (0% increase in BMI percentile). In children ages 1 to 6 years, 1 serving increment was associated with a 0.087 (95% confidence interval: 0.008 to 0.167) unit increase in BMI z score (4% increase in BMI percentile). 100% fruit juice consumption was not associated with BMI z score increase in children ages 7 to 18 years.

That is, for children 7–18 years, drinking fruit juice every day had no effect on weight gain.  None.  Zero.  Zilch. Nada.  Bupkes.

The word "zero" in white, surrounded by a numeric zero on a black background.
The word “zero” in white, surrounded by a numeric zero on a black background.

But:  for children ages 1–6, daily fruit juice intake was associated with a 4% increase in BMI percentile.  Please note, that’s not a four-point BMI increase, or 4 pounds, or 4 kilos.  What is it?  This (from the article, p.8):

As an example, consider a 5-year-old girl at the 50th percentile for weight (18.0 kg) and BMI (15.2 kg/m2). An increase of 0.046 to 0.087 BMI z–score U over 1 year translates into an increase in this child’s BMI percentile to the 52nd to 54th percentile: a weight gain of 0.08 kg to 0.15 kg over 1 year. A small amount of weight gain that is not clinically significant at the individual level may gain significance when considered at the population level.


Okay, let’s translate some of this.  This study would predict that for say, some 5-year-old girl in the 50th percentile for weight (for her age), could gain .08 to .15 kilos in one year (0r 2.28–5.29 ounces).  That’s the weight of about 2–2.5 Clif bars. The researchers also graciously add that this amount of weight gain is not clinically significant at the individual level.  You bet it’s not!

This amount of potential weight gain, even for small children, is tiny enough to be within the normal variance of weight over time.  That is, IT DOESN’T MATTER.  AT ALL.

Why am I bringing this up to y’all?  After all, this is a study about children, not adults.  I bring it up because it’s another example where we are directed to pay attention to minute changes in body metrics and imbue them with all sorts of alarmist meaning.  The changes that are documented here are admittedly irrelevant to the health and well-being of children.  They are statistically significant (for very small children only), but that doesn’t mean that they mean anything at all for how we should behave or act or respond or live.

Not that I’m advocating for rampant fruit juice drinking on the part of children and adults everywhere.  As I said earlier, there’s other evidence about the effects of fruit juice intake on cavities.  If you’re interested, check it out and do what you will.

Science is a big tent.  People do all kinds of research searching for connections among lots of features of our bodies, our behaviors, our environment, etc.  Sometimes they find big connections, sometimes small ones, sometimes they find nothing.  As consumers of science, especially body weight science, I think it’s important to notice when the results of scientific study are NOT alarming or NOT relevant, even when they feature dazzling metrics (and ominous headlines).

In short, sometimes we need to take our science with a grain of salt.  Which weighs 0.00067 grams (if it’s table salt).

A spoon inscribed with "take it with a grain of salt".
A spoon inscribed with “take it with a grain of salt”.