Weighing the evidence of common beliefs in obesity research

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Krista Casazza
  • Andrew Brown
  • Fredrik Bertz
  • Charles Baum
  • Michelle Bohan Brown
  • John Dawson
  • Nefertiti Durant
  • Gareth Dutton
  • David A Fields
  • Kevin R Fontaine
  • Steven Heymsfield
  • David Levitsky
  • Tapan Mehta
  • Nir Menachemi
  • P. K. Newby
  • Russell Pate
  • Hollie Raynor
  • Barbara J Rolls
  • Bisakha Sen
  • Daniel L Smith
  • Diana Thomas
  • Brian Wansink
  • David B Allison

Abstract Obesity is a topic on which many views are strongly held in the absence of scientific evidence to support those views, and some views are strongly held despite evidence to contradict those views. We refer to the former as "presumptions" and the latter as "myths". Here we present nine myths and ten presumptions surrounding the effects of rapid weight loss; setting realistic goals in weight loss therapy; stage of change or readiness to lose weight; physical education classes; breast-feeding; daily self-weighing; genetic contribution to obesity; the "Freshman 15"; food deserts; regularly eating (versus skipping) breakfast; eating close to bedtime; eating more fruits and vegetables; weight cycling (i.e. yo-yo dieting); snacking; built environment; reducing screen time in childhood obesity; portion size; participation in family mealtime; and drinking water as a means of weight-loss. For each of these, we describe the belief and present evidence that the belief is widely held or stated, reasons to support the conjecture that the belief might be true, evidence to directly support or refute the belief, and findings from randomized controlled trials, if available. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of these determinations, conjecture on why so many myths and presumptions exist, and suggestions for limiting the spread of these and other unsubstantiated beliefs about obesity domain.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number14
Pages (from-to)2014-2053
Number of pages42
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ID: 131700441