Episode 88: 8 Red Flags of Weight Loss Research – Solo Episode


On this Solo Episode, David explains some of the holes in weight loss research, shines a light on why the research doesn’t support weight loss as a cure for everything, and discusses the difference between weight centric and weight inclusive. He asks “If you are supposed to lose weight to live longer and stay healthy why isn’t it working?”.

In the beginning of this podcast David is transparent about his history with using a weight centric approach, working in a bariatric center, and his transition to and training in Intuitive Eating. This is important because most people don’t know that nearly all education for dietitians is fatphobic. It can be hard as a practitioner to be curious and challenge what you’ve been taught, then inevitably break away from the norm. Most intuitive eating dietitians have a similar story to David’s and it is important that IE dietitians continue to share their stories of growth.

As David talks about the holes in weight loss research he references John Robison’s article about the 8 red flags of weight loss research which focuses on a commonly references weight loss research study for diabetes and heart disease – the Look AHEAD Study. Many of these red flags can be used to assess bias in any weight loss research study. During this podcast David really puts a critical eye on how weight centered research is being conducted.

8 Red Flags of Weight Loss Research

  • 1. Comparing participants to non-participants
  • 2. Using different denominators when determining outcomes
  • 3. Calling it “maintenance” when the program is still on going
  • 4. Claiming your program is highly effective at helping achieve clinically meaningful weight loss when it really isn’t
  • 5. Not distinguishing between the health impacts of weight loss and life style changes
  • 6. Claiming “savings” when there isn’t enough evidence to prove it
  • 7. Not considering the age of participants
  • 8. Not being transparent about likely outcomes and potential negative consequences

Episode Links and Resources
Episode 81: Friday Food Cast – Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Episode 76: Friday Food Cast – How Weight Loss Articles Send the Wrong Messages
Episode 002: Chop the Diet Mentality!
8 Red Flags
Jon Robison, PhD

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