I am not going to point fingers and say who provided the lunch and learn, but it was a drugs company who were telling us about a new product which they say is super-duper and amazing. When I got to have a break I leafed through the information they had left for us. Some of this is the presentation of data to show how good their new product is. Which is nice. I like a bit of data. Only trouble is the comparison they were providing was with a product that generally we don’t think is very good. So they were saying that their product is better than a product that we don’t think is any good, and that we don’t use because we don’t think it is any good. Not only that, but below the graph to show how much better it was than the useless product, there was a bit of text that said how much better it was. Oh no, sorry, it didn’t say that. It said that their product was ‘non-inferior’ to the useless product. Excuse me? Isn’t ‘non-inferior’ just ‘no worse than’? So it isn’t better than it, it is just not worse than. Pardon me if I don’t rush to dispense your non-inferior product.
Why do I bring this up? Well, you may have noticed yesterday that I wrote a very short blog about the Horizon Special – ‘What’s the Right Diet For You?’ You may not have noticed it and in all honesty I was tired and didn’t have the energy to write a devastating critique of everything that was wrong with it (and there was plenty that was right with it, but that isn’t half as much fun for me to moan on about)
Firstly, all the scientists were scrawny sticks of nothing. Obviously we have already established through scientific research that people don’t take diet advice from fat professionals. So I am prepared to allow this through the net. But they were mainly exceptionally scrawny. The doctor presenting the show wasn’t, but he was just there along for the ride, he wasn’t giving advice. And the genetics dude. And some of the others. But in a straw poll of my brain which is the most scientific method currently available, they were definitely all annoyingly thin.
The test subjects all basically fat. But that’s fine, it was the point of the whole programme.
The BBC website has a test you can take to see what kind of overeater you are. And as I mentioned yesterday these are divided into Constant Cravers, Emotional Eaters, and Feasters.
When I first did the test I was pretty much 33% of each of these. On subsequent occasions, and I’m not sure which answers I chose to change, I have come out at about 41% Feaster, 37% Constant Craver and 22% Emotional Eater.
This was not a big surprise to me.
The Feaster is the Pringle Overeater – once you start you can’t stop. This was ascribed to low levels of the satiety hormone GLP-1. This kind of person eats faster than other people (Denise would say this is how Northerners eat, because that is how I and my family eat) and the levels of GLP-1 never reach high enough levels to strongly trigger the feelings of fullness that other people experience. The scientists ran an experiment where they got a load of fatties to eat a burger. They told the fatties that they were going to measure hormone levels afterwards but what they really wanted to know (and they assigned scientists in bushes to measure this) was how long the fatties took to eat the burger. They did run a follow up test and made the fatties eat the burger over the course of half an hour and compared hormone levels between the two runs. But basically it was just an excuse for scientists to hide in bushes and watch fat people eating burgers.
The Constant Craver thinks about food all the time and is hungry all the time. If I’m honest, I wasn’t paying too much attention to the ‘experiment they did for the constant cravers, though it did involve sending them into a place with lots of food and seeing what the cravers looked at. It was mainly food. This group were told that it was their genes which made them feel this way. This made a lot of fat people very happy because they were able to tell their friends that they were only overweight because their genes made them this way
The Emotional Eater eats when they are stressed, upset, whatever. They were using overeating as a coping mechanism. The programme made a load of these people stay up overnight and then sent them into a supermarket to buy food. They bought a lot of food – without the benefit of watching the programme again, I’m going to say that the calories in the food they ate were twice as much as the calories in the well-rested shoppers. The programme then also made the emotional overeaters abseil down a lighthouse to show them that they could cope in stressful situations. I’m pretty sure a lot of them went home after that and had a massive glass of wine to calm their nerves.
I recognised myself in all of the categories, but the programme would have categorised me as the Feaster. I wonder if the participants were selected in advance of the programme for being particularly strong examples of the types or if they were all as weak examples as me.
Once they’d been put into their groups the participants were give diet plans that were supposed to help them cope with their particular form of over-eating.
The Feasters were given a diet high in protein, pulses and the like. The higher levels of protein were intended to trigger feelings of satiety. One of the ladies in this group was an air hostess who seemed particularly distressed by the lack of cake and pastries in the plan. This was something I completely identified with.
The Constant Cravers were put on a diet which the programme said was ‘commonly known as an intermittent fasting diet’ when what they meant to say was that is ‘commonly known as the 5:2 diet’ but as this is probably copyrighted by Dr Michael Mosley who presented the Horizon Special on that diet last year and has published best-selling books on the subject, the producers were probably feeling a bit bitter about the whole thing and didn’t want to give him any extra publicity. Especially as they are probably about to bring out their own book on ‘What is the Right Diet For You?’ The intermittent fasting diet would give the Constant Cravers the leeway to only have to worry about their diet on 2 days each week and so would only be 2 days per week of sheer hell for them.
The Emotional Eaters were packed off to Weight Watchers where they could get a bit of support and hugs when they were feeling down.
And 3 months down the line, they were all weighed again and collectively they had lost 102 stones! Which was very good, until you realised that 100 stone Eddie had withdrawn from the programme because he constantly craved cakes and pastries when he was feeling stressed.
But 3 months isn’t enough. Any idiot can do a diet for 3 months when they have the pressure of a camera crew and the scrutiny of the nation upon them. That’s essentially the method I’m using – external pressure to keep me going. But what are they going to do when the cameras go away. 3 months is, I would suggest a pretty natural life span for any diet. I’ve managed diets for that long in the past, and that’s round about the time I just go, ‘Well, bugger this, I need a massive pizza, chips, cake, cheese, all in one bowl with ketchup.’
So the point of my story at the start was this. The Horizon special, whilst it presented a semi-new insight into why people overeat then went on to basically compare their diet including public scrutiny with diets that normal people do without public scrutiny. And I’m pretty sure that their results were ‘non-inferior’ to those diets. But 3 months down the line is when it just starts to get interesting. And is just the point where the production company knows that if they keep on going they will start to see their participants falling off the wagon and making their results look a lot less convincing.
So, as I said yesterday, let’s see what next year’s Horizon Special ‘Which Diet is Right For You – One Year On’ has to say on the matter. Or, just possibly, next year there will be a different Horizon Special with a different diet agenda to push. And this year’s programme will be long forgotten.