Have you picked up a copy of Men’s Health or clicked on a Huffington Post article lately? Maybe you’ve heard the news: there’s a sweeter way to lose weight, and it’s published in the International Archives of Medicine, among other research journals. The claim? That chocolate may be used as a weight-loss accelerator.
Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is. The “research” that was included in a number of scientific journals and touted by notable health publications like Shape was fabricated precisely to prove just how easy it is to present questionable research as credible scientific truth. At least that experiment was a success.
“This study is important because it shows how ‘respectable’ outlets can be fooled into thinking that an article and its author are ‘reputable.’ Look at the outlets that were fooled because they didn’t do their homework,” Dr. Dirk says.
John Bohannan, who authored the bogus claim, actually carried out an experiment and published the results, posing as knowledgeable weight-loss expert John Bohannon, PhD. “It was, in fact, a fairly typical study for the field of diet research,” Bohannon writes. “Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless, and the health claims that the media blasted out to millions of people around the world are utterly unfounded… The study design is a recipe for false positives.”
Dallas Bariatric Surgeon, Dr. Dirk, agrees. “There are a lot of ‘experts’ out there that call themselves experts, but have no idea what they’re talking about,” he says.
So how to navigate the murky waters of weight-loss reporting? Luckily, there’s hope.
“Nutrition and the nutrition related to weight loss has been made really complicated when it is really simple,” Dr. Dirk says. “If something does not seem right to you, if it does not make sense, it’s not going to work.”
The best advice is tried and true: a healthy diet that’s high in protein and low in carbs, combined with consistent aerobic exercise. It may not make sensational headlines, but it will make a difference in your waistline and health.