Nutrition in the News

Alexandra Amend

Article Summary

This article discusses the "myth" that eating everything in moderation is an appropriate way to avoid gaining weight and maintain a healthy diet. The article cites a study that surveyed 7,000 people about their eating habits and found that the "eating in moderation" approach might have actually caused these individuals to gain weight and have an increased risk for diabetes. The researchers found that people who only ate a few foods that they knew they liked, even if some of these foods weren't healthy, had a lower risk of weight gain. The article goes on to explain that this may be because tasting a variety of different foods may cause the brain to ignore hunger signals, causing you to eat more. However, the article then explains that previous research found that people who ate a variety of "weird" health foods weighed less than "picky" eaters, explaining that diet quality is the most important factor. The article concludes with a quote from Dr. Otto, explaining that "eating a range of quality foods may be more effective in promoting health than the old advice of 'eating everything in moderation' (Otto, 2015).

Article critique

The article's author is Charlotte Hilton Andersen, a popular fitness blogger and author. Ms. Andersen authored the book "The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything" and has written articles for various magazines, including Shape, Fitness, Women's Health UK, and The Huffington Post. Despite the fact that she is so highly published, she has had little experience in the fields of nutrition or exercise science. Rather, she has a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in Computer Information Systems and Education. In her personal blog she has a question and answer section and one of the questions is "What makes you qualified to give advice?" Charlotte's response is "Nothing! It's liberating actually." and explains that she only writes articles about research she's found and that fitness is her passion (Andersen, 2014).

This article was published in Shape magazine, a popular women's fitness magazine. The study cited in the article was performed by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Their findings were published in PLOS ONE, a "peer-reviewed open access scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science" (Wikipedia, 2015). This initial publication is much more detailed and is much more scientifically accurate than the article published in Shape. The publication details the different ethnicities of the participants, the specific different food sources, and how the "differences in food attributes relevant to metabolic health, such as fiber, sodium or trans-fat content" (Otto, 2015). The publication continues on and explains that the participants that ate a greater variety of food and gained weight "were eating less healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and more unhealthy foods, such as processed meats, desserts and soda" (Otto, 2015).

The article written by Ms. Andersen, though eye-catching, did not accurately portray the information provided by the initial study. Ms. Andersen generalized many of the findings and did not elaborate the reasons behind the findings. The article was well written grammatically and held the reader's interest, but lacked any real scientific findings or explanations. The conclusions were misleading and twisted the actual research in order to "pop out" at readers. In order to find more valid information on this topic, readers should consult the actual scientific paper, which can be found online on PLOS ONE.

Works Cited

  1. Andersen, C. H. (November 4, 2015). 'Everything in Moderation' May Lead to Weight Gain. Shape. Retrieved from http://www.shape.com/weight-loss/weight-management/everything-moderation-may-lead-weight-gain
  2. C. Andersen. (2014, September 7). About Me. Retrieved from http://www.thegreatfitnessexperiment.com/about
  3. Otto, M. C. (October 30, 2015). Everything in Moderation- Dietary Diversity and Quality, Central Obesity and Risk of Diabetes. PLOS ONE, 10 (137). Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0141341
  4. (n.d.) Retrieved December 2, 2015 from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PLOS_ONE