Weight Loss Experts Have No Clue

I saw a brief section of this interview on Fox News on Oct, 2, 2006. I was so incensed at the comments by the doctor (I did not get his name) who was being interviewed that I decided to take a look at the article being quoted. I have included the bulk of it below. Please read it. I have saved my incendiary remarks for the end.

20 Most Popular Diet Web Sites Rated by Watchdog Group
Monday , October 02, 2006
by Miranda Hitti

The 20 most popular diet web sites are all over the map, in terms of quality, according to a new report from Consumer Reports WebWatch and the Health Improvement Institute. Three of the top 20 web sites were rated excellent, two were rated very good, three were rated good, six fair, and six poor.

I think clearly there are some good web sites that publish information that will be useful for people trying to lose weight, Consumer Reports Beau Brendler tells WebMD. But out of the top 20 sites, there are a lot of them that really need some work, says Brendler, who directs Consumer Reports WebWatch.

Diet sites that are pushing one particular diet or one particular way of losing weight, we generally found were not as good as those that provided in-depth information on health and weight loss, Brendler says.

Diet Sites Rated
We started with Nielsen net ratings traffic data and projected some of our own methodological exclusions to come up with the top 20 most trafficked diet sites, Brendler says. Obviously, they're the most popular and so we felt those were the most critical to evaluate in terms of information quality and site quality, he adds.

Site-by-Site Ratings
Here are the ratings. Sites within a rating category are not ranked higher or lower than others in that same category.

MedicineNet.com (a WebMD company)

Very Good:
National Institutes of Health


Advice for Users
There's so much information out there now hitting people about how to lose weight this way or that way, Brendler says. Consumers really need to pay attention, but we think that obviously a ratings list like this is one way to help people figure out the best place to spend their time for getting good diet information. He offers this advice for people looking for dieting information on the Internet: Look at how well the sites separate advertising from editorial content. Check the source's medical or nutritional qualifications. Read the fine print. So many diet ads nowadays say that you're going to lose 10 pounds in a week, but if you read the small print at the bottom of the screen or the bottom of the ad, they usually say things like, Not typical results. Individual results may vary, Brendler says.

Those are all things that consumers should pay attention to and those should be red flags for them, that perhaps what they're looking at is not as good as some source of diet advice on a site where there are less commercial influences, he says.

By Miranda Hitti, reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

SOURCES: Consumer Reports WebWatch and the Health Improvement Institute. Beau Brendler, director, Consumer Reports WebWatch. News release, Consumer Reports

Okay, now why was I incensed? Let me count the ways.

First, the doctor (interviewed) made a classically ignorant statement about weight loss that left me with my mouth agape in surprise. I cannot quote him specifically because I could not find the video of the show but here is what I remember: Overweight people simply need to learn to cut calories and exercise. That is it. He said it with no compassion or empathy and I immediately thought that he is probably not a weight-challenged person. Otherwise he could not have made such a blatantly uninformed, unprofessional and essentially stupid remark.

His remark was disrespectful to every weight-challenged person who has ever had a desperate struggle to lose weight. We (yes, I am one of them) know that only a moron or an individual who has never had a weight problem would make such a statement. Then how could a medical doctor say this? I don't know but I can surely say that many of my clients and eDiets.com support group members will testify to the sad but true fact that this attitude is not rare among physicians who treat them. My comment to that doctor is this. Remember the rule, Doc. First do no harm. Your insensitive and uninformed attitude about weight loss is harmful to your patients and to your listeners. Cut it out. Then come to eDiets.com and let us help you understand the difficulties, the real difficulties that confront every weight-challenged individual. You will be a better doctor and a more informed guide for the many patients who need your help.

Secondly, I read the article above and took a look at the sights that were rated higher than eDiets.com. I thought I might learn something that would help us. What I found upset me again. Actually I got upset by what I did not find.

I did not find 3 essential ingredients that should be, need to be, included in every long term, healthy and SUCCESSFUL weight loss program. They simply were not there. If they do exist on any of these excellent sites, then I could not find them. What are they? By the way, we have all of them at eDiets.com.

A - Group Support. Weight-challenged persons need daily, sometimes hourly support from both peers and experts. Losing weight and keeping it off is extremely difficult for most people. We need all the help we can get. At eDiets.com we have over 115 peer support groups and 12 expert led groups.

B - Psychological Support. Weight gain is most often caused by psychological issues that generate uncomfortable emotions that we manage with comfort food. If we do not attend to these issues and emotions we almost always fail at weight loss. We know this fact at eDiets.com. Therefore we have a full time psychologist on staff plus a number of other psychologically informed experts that provide daily education and guidance for members.

C - Spiritual Support. Spiritual deprivation has an effect on weight gain and spiritual nurture and practice can have a positive effect on weight loss. (See my book THE PRAYER DIET) EDiets.com appreciates this fact and has included a spiritual expert (me) and a spiritual support group for the last 6 years.

Does eDiets.com have superb information about diet and exercise? You bet we do. Our programs are equal to or better than anything I saw at any of the 'excellent' sites. We are cutting edge and we have both a breadth and a depth of programs that meet the needs and desires of almost any weight-challenged person.

So here is the big question: Why did the investigators rate 3 sites over us? My opinion on this is that they do not know any better. They don't have a clue about what is really needed to help people lose weight. They can only parrot the standard (and basically naive) line about what causes weight loss: Count calories and exercise. The truth about parrots is that they may have a lot to say but they usually have no idea what it means or whether it is true. If you want to learn about real weight loss and what it takes to make it work long term don't ask a bird, ask an expert.

I hope that more doctors and other experts will visit our site and hang around long enough to learn something useful. American is suffering with an obesity plague and its victims need compassion and meaningful, insightful support and guidance, not parrot food.

If you agree with what I have to say here, email your friends and doctors and have them take a look.

Matthew Anderson, D.Min.

Weight Loss Experts Have No Clue
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