Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Where is dieting's placebo effect?

One thing I’ve often wondered about dieting is where is its placebo effect? Where is the bit of it that works due to a reaction of the nervous system to the belief invested in it? We know it doesn't work, however that shouldn't stop it from working because people believe it does.

A placebo effect is made up of reactions from the nervous system to expectations either positive, or negative. It’s the interplay between the mind and the body via the nervous system. It’s one of the great unknown variables of medicine. Even when things don’t actually work, it should be present.

As the success rate for dieting seems to be pretty low, I’ve often wondered where it shows up. I understand the placebo effect, to be a collection of factors that can occur in regards to the progression of disease. Things such as spontaneous reversal or remission- that is something that reverses or things changing on their own, I know that weight adjusts spontaneously up and down.

Although I’ve heard it’s rare, I don’t know whether it’s any rarer than long term diet success. The much quoted figure for dieting is for every 100 attempts 5 will be successful. I’m not sure how they measure that or success, but I think its long term 5 yrs +. Subsequently, people have made much play of disputing it, implying that quoting this figure is somehow a sign of one's level of honesty. Forgetting that the reason there is any need for controversy about the true extent of weight loss dieting's efficacy, is that it has not been subjected to rigorous clinical testing in the first place.

Their figure of 12 or as much as 14% is a lot more pathetic than they seem to realise as our bodies create the effects dieting is using for weight loss. So what does it actually do? Nothing much, just make use of what’s already there, so a placebo effect would seem to be evident, it isn’t. That elusiveness is telling. Maybe it’s wrong to think of dieting as a thing at all. The placebo is an effect that is felt to be so prevalent and indivisible, no matter how potent the active ingredients of a medicine or treatment are, that a certain amount is allowed before effectiveness is seen to be statistically significant, only above this does effectiveness begin to be taken seriously. Something rarely if ever mentioned around the whole WL diet thing, is the placebo effect, which is cure, relapse through factors other than the active ingredients of the medicine or treatment.

So where is it?

To move around the X-Files tagline, the truth is in there.

No comments:

Post a Comment