Thursday, February 16, 2017

Traci Mann's "Secrets from the Eating Lab"

Traci Mann is a Professor of Social and Health Psychology at the University of Minnesota. Her research aims to identify and understand the behaviors associated with eating regulation and body image as well as the process of self-control during health behavior changes. Mann is principal investigator of the Health and Eating Laboratory, which uses diverse research methods to study interesting topics such as increasing food consumption in NASA astronauts, increasing vegetable intake in elementary school children, and the ability of foods to reduce social and physical pain.

Mann applied the “Page 99 Test” to her book, Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, the Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Secrets from the Eating Lab talks about how "high maintenance" vegetables are, and then gives suggestions for removing this barrier (and others) to eating vegetables. This is actually a good representation of the half of the book that gives scientifically-tested strategies for healthy eating. None of the strategies requires dieting or using willpower (because willpower is a terrible strategy for weight loss and everyone is terrible at it!). All of the strategies are meant to help people reach their leanest livable weight -- the weight at the low end of their set weight range. I argue that people should aim for that weight, because if they go much lower than that, their body rebels and makes it very difficult to keep that weight off. But it is fairly easy to get to and stay at the low end of the set weight range, and that is a perfectly healthy place to be.

The other half of the book talks about why diets don't lead to long term weight loss for most people, and provides evidence that it is not about willpower, but instead is about the physical changes to your body that are caused by dieting. Those changes make it incredibly hard to continue sticking to a diet. That is why most people are better off not dieting.
Visit The Mann Lab website.

--Marshal Zeringue