Posts Tagged ‘RESEARCH’

The Dukan Diet—Reality Check

May 12th, 2011

The Dukan Diet… Reality Check

The Dukan Diet is getting a lot of attention, well, a lot of marketing, as the latest diet secret from France. What’s the fact’s behind the diet?

For one, the book claims on its jacket that it is “The Real Reason the French Stay Thin.” Actually, the French aren’t doing all that well. True, they do not have as high rates of obesity as some other nations but their rates have been steadily increasing. From 1980 to 2006-7, rates of overweight in France have gone up from 33% to 57.2%,  and for obesity from 6.4% to 16/1%. Source: WHO :: Global Database on Body Mass Index  

According to OECD, rates of obesity in France are expected to continue to grow moderately but with larger growth in rates of overweight. http://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/displaydocumentpdf?cote=delsa/hea/wd/hwp(2009)3&doclanguage=en) See also, Trends and Stabilization up to 2022 in Overweight and Obesity in Switzerland, Comparison to France, UK, US and Australia

About the Dukan Diet itself, many claims are made or implied. For example, “ 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep it off Forever,” and “Never Feel Hungry Again.” So, on the theory that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, let’s look at the scientific evidence behind the diet.

First, let’s go to the  published, peer reviewed, independent randomized controlled clinical trials on the Dukan Diet. Well, there don’t seem t to be any. How about published observational studies? Nope. Any published papers ?

Well, the doctor must have his own data from his own patients, like the number starting his diet. Seemingly not. Number  who dropped out? Nada Reasons for droping out? Age, gender,economic/occupational level?  Forgetaboutit.   Placebo controls? Is that French?

 In 12 years of attending obesity scientific and medical conferences, number of presentations, abstracts I’ve seen or heard about on the Dukan diet? Zip. Number of published articles in the National Library of Medicine’s  international  database of scientific articles , Pub Med, by Dr. Pierre Dukan: 0          

Weight loss?  How much: no information. Change in BMI status, WC? Beats me? How long and how much was the weight loss maintained? Now you are really becoming tedious! Was there no weight regain? When? How much?  Sacre Bleu!

What is the essential message you must know about the Dukan Diet? It is in the front pages and it reads:

“The material in this book is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and care of your physician. As with all new weight loss or weight maintenance regimes, the nutrition and fitness program described in this book should be followed only after first consulting with your physician to make sure it is appropriate for your individual circumstances. Keep in mind that nutritional needs vary from person to person, depending on age, sex, health status, and total diet. The author and publisher expressly disclaim any responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained in this book. ( Emphasis Added)

The French food agency and the British Dietetic Association have both questioned its safety. Royal wedding: Middleton fuels speculation about Dukan diet – latimes.com

Asking for some studies is not a high hurdle. Consumer Reports recently released its evaluation of diet plans, giving first place to Jenny Craig, followed by Slim Fast and Weight Watchers . Jenny Craig got credit for a two-year study of participants. Consumer Reports names America’s top diets – Health – Salon.com

Chance to influence NIH and FDA plans

October 2nd, 2010

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has opened its Draft Strategic Plan for Obesity Research for public comment. You can review the draft plan and offer comments, but only up to October 14, 2010. See Strategic Plan for NIH Obesity Research 

Also, the Food and Drug Administration has issued its draft strategic plan for 2011-2015. Go to http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/ReportsManualsForms/Reports/StrategicActionPlan/UCM226907.pdf

Federal Government

September 27th, 2009

Federal Programs on Obesity

For an excellent overview, see http://www.stopobesityalliance.org/research-and-policy/research-center/gw-research/ and F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2008 – RWJF

National Institutes of Health

NIH is the preeminent research organization in the United States and the world and have a number of research programs related to obesity.

Weight Information Network has many fact sheets, also available in Spanish Welcome to WIN – The Weight-control Information Network

What is NIH spending on obesity? A projected $664 million. NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT) – Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC)

What are the specific grants now in process? NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT) – RCDC Project Listing by Category

What is their plan to address obesity? Obesity Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Information on applying for grants. http://grants.nih.gov/favicon.ico

Clinical trials Home – ClinicalTrials.gov

Some particular projects:

Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery

Clinical Nutrition Research Units WIN – Research – ONRCs and CNRUs

Research Opportunities Obesity Research at NIDDK : NIDDK

Advisory Groups Clinical Obesity Research Panel (CORP) : NIDDK

NIDDK Office on Obesity Research Office of Obesity Research : NIDDK

Look Ahead Trial Action For Health in Diabetes (Look AHEAD) : NIDDK

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The FDA has several responsibilities when it comes to obesity, including nutrition labeling and approval of drugs and devices

Calories Count: The 2004 plan of FDA to address obesity FDA/CFSAN – Calories Count: Report of the Working Group on Obesity Q&A Questions and Answers – The FDA’s Obesity Working Group Report

The Keystone Report on Away from Home Foods Calories Count and Keystone Report

Consumer information on reading the nutrition label. Make Your Calories Count

Department of Agriculture

Women Infants Children program of the USDA is a program of providing grants to states for nutrition education and support for low income pregnant, breastfeeding or post partum women WIC

Food and Nutrition Information Center Food and Nutrition Information Center

General Information on obesity General Information and Resources : Weight and Obesity : Food and Nutrition Information Center

Consumer Nutrition Information Weight Management : Nutrition.gov

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

While the IRS is not considered a health agency, it does provide that taxpayers may use the medical deduction for expenses related to weight loss when a physician makes a recommendation of weight loss. Publication 502 (2008), Medical and Dental Expenses

Surgeon General

Surgeon General Richard Carmona on Obesity The Obesity Crisis in America

Surgeon General’s Report to Prevent and Decrease ObesityThe Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity

Transcript of meeting where Surgeon General David Satcher decided to issue Surgeon General’s Report on Preventing and Overcoming Obesity: http://www.health.gov/hpcomments/council4-23-99/focus.htm

Earlier Surgeon General Reports on Nutrition and Health The Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health (1988) and Physical Activity Physical Activity and Health Executive Summary

Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

In 2004, CMS dropped language from its policies that obesity was not considered a disease. 2004.07.15: HHS Announces Revised Medicare Obesity Coverage Policy. A Deletion Opens Medicare To Coverage for Obesity – The New York Times

Subsequently, it convened an advisory panel to consider expanding or restricting medicare coverage of bariatric surgery which considered a summary of the evidence on the surgery’s safety and effectiveness. http://www.cms.hhs.gov/FACA/downloads/id26c.pdf

The outcome of the advisory panel was very favorable and, in 2006, official coverage policy was changed and expanded. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Disability

EEOC Policy on obesity EEOC Informal Discussion Letter

EEOC definition of “disability” Section 902 Definition of the Term Disability

6th Circuit Court of Appeals denies ADA claim based on morbid obesity. Read the full decision in EEOC v. Watkins Motors. http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/06a0351p-06.pdf

Through the Social Security Administration, individuals who are morbidly obese and have cardiovascular, respiratory or musculoskeletal problems may quality for disability.

See: Disability Doc – Examining Social Security Disability – Obesity and Disability

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC has numerous fact sheets and guides. Where appropriate, they are incorporated into more specific sections of the site.

To see all the CDC resources available, go to Obesity and Overweight: Topics | DNPAO | CDC

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

AHRQ funds research, especially on the translation of basic research into clinical practice, improvements to clinical care and a number of evidence-based guidelines. Relevant guidelines are included in the treatment or health effects sections. AHRQ is a leader in Comparative Effectiveness Research and obesity is one of their major conditions of interest.

See Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Home Page

Medicaid

Morbidly obese patients often return to work after gastric bypass surgery Return to work after gastric bypass in Medicaid-fu…[Arch Surg. 2007] – PubMed Result

Veterans Administration

Learn about the VA programs in weight management at MOVE! Home

Department of Defense

Information on the military’s Tricare program and weight management can be found at The TRICARE Blog

Research

September 26th, 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Research is fundamental to understanding, preventing and treating obesity. And yet research reports are often not accepted by the public or policy-makers. One reason is that almost every adult is their own self-study of weight control. A study might have the most precise protocol, a powerful sample size and control for a variety of factors but if it does not comport with what “I” experience, I am not likely to believe it. But research itself in obesity is not without its difficulties. Many studies are ‘underpowered”, i.e. they have too few subjects to draw a conclusion from. That is why many preliminary studies do not pan out in larger tests. Also, in many cases, especially in drug trials, researchers try to remove “confounders” from the test subjects so they can see if there is an effect of the drug. That means that many patients who are sick, smoke, take other drugs, etc. are excluded from the trial. When the drug, for example, gets used by a more ‘real-world’ sample, the effects sometimes vanish. Studies that rely on self-reported weights or dietary recall or physical activity diaries are sometimes less reliable than studies where a more objective measurement is needed. Self-reported weight and height — Rowland 52 (6): 1125 — American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and COMPARISON OF SELF-REPORTED AND MEASURED HEIGHT AND WEIGHT — PALTA et al. 115 (2): 223 — American Journal of Epidemiology

There also may be a bias from the funding source (See Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice – Institute of Medicine, Relationship between funding source and conclusion…[PLoS Med. 2007] – PubMed Result, Scope and impact of financial conflicts of interes…[JAMA. 2003 Jan 22-29] – PubMed Result) or a selection of participants which may skew the results one way or another. Currently, there is a lot of concern about ghost written scientific articles. Ghostwriting Widespread in Medical Journals, Study Says – NYTimes.com

What’s a reader to do? The first is to read skeptically. The second is to go to several different papers or research articles. If different authors appear to agree upon key points, chances are that they are on to something. Remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Research is a communications process among researchers and it should be thought of as a dialogue to which we can all listen.

Many readers may find useful this site, The Little Handbook of Statistical Practice. It is a handy guide to understanding some of the statistical issues involved…like association is not causation.

Research is key. If you are interested in furthering research, you should look into participating in a clinical research activity. To see what clinical trials are underway in obesity research, see www.ClinicalTrials.gov/Search of: Open Studies | “Obesity” – List Results – ClinicalTrials.gov

A major NIH initiative is support for Obesity and Nutrition Research Centers. In addition to the research they carry out, these centers are critical training facilities for new investigators exploring obesity. Most have their own websites which can provide additional, valuable information. Their sites may provide you with helpful information. Also included are their annual reports.

  1. University of Alabama Nutrition & Obesity Research Center | Nutrition & Obesity Research Center Annual report at http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/E6AE7940-23AC-402E-BCAC-D4F11A9213B0/0/Alabama.pdf
  2. University of Colorado at Denver and Health Science Center. No website. Annual report at http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/061BCC83-261E-4B39-95CC-226C97B03ED2/0/Colorado.pdf
  3. Pennington Biomedical Research Center PBRC – Nutrition Obesity Research Center. Annual report at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/841B5FA5-7AC1-4DDB-AD3F-300B94468560/0/Pennington.pdf
  4. University of Maryland, http://medschool.umaryland.edu/cnru/index.asp. Annual report at http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/BF6E7D31-948E-450A-AFF5-B863FF427B24/0/Maryland.pdf
  5. Boston, MA  Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center Annual report at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/83F114DD-E707-4623-BA20-BCE02C33ADF6/0/Boston.pdf
  6. Harvard,MA,  no website. Annual report at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/9AFA2465-42C0-40CB-87DB-35813E80A978/0/Harvard.pdf
  7. University of Minnesota. Minnesota Obesity Center | College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences | University of Minnesota Annual Report at http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/78A3842A-030C-45F7-856E-5C27BE202C15/0/Minnesota.pdf
  8. Washington University, Missouri http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/BB5BBA2D-AA63-4B73-99D6-56741BB220B3/0/WashingtonUniversity.pdf
  9. Columbia/Cornell, New York, NY http://www.nyorc.org/favicon.ico Annual Report at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/28E027FF-5212-4F15-960B-4E5C84FF952A/0/NewYork.pdf
  10. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. No website. Annual report at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/8836D29C-0AF8-4C6A-914E-9D12828A1A82/0/NorthCarolina.pdf
  11. University of Pittsburgh. No web site. Annual Report at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/C8B65B24-EE7A-495C-B441-05EAD3372283/0/Pittsburgh.pdf
  12. University of Washington. http://depts.washington.edu/favicon.ico. Annual Report at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/NR/rdonlyres/739D3F88-98FE-4733-9D31-6BB81A1DA915/0/Washington.pdf

 

New Studies , updated October 16, 2009

Obesity driven GERD drives up health care visits Trends in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease as Measu…[Dig Dis Sci. 2009] – PubMed Result

Psychiatrists survey on attitudes to obese patients Psychiatrists’ perceptions and practices in treati…[Acad Psychiatry. 2009 Sep-Oct] – PubMed Result

More evidence for role of FTO gene in obesity via loss of control and selecting diet high in fat The FTO gene rs9939609 obesity-risk allele and los…[Am J Clin Nutr. 2009] – PubMed Result

AHRQ summarizes evidence on breast-feeding, finds reduced risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes A Summary of the Agency for Healthcare Research an…[Breastfeed Med. 2009] – PubMed Result

Weight loss after bariatric surgery may be explained by changes in gut hormones controlling appetite. The Gut Hormone Response Following Roux-en-Y Gastr…[Obes Surg. 2009] – PubMed Result