HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Saturday, August 5, 2006

Lying About Weight May Be Harmful?

The great Ezra Klein points to an article in the Seattle Times that discusses a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine concerning why people may have problems losing weight.  He states their conclusion rather succinctly:

Because we're a bunch of liars:

It's been reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that people attempting to lose weight tend to underestimate the amount they eat by as much as 47 percent and to overestimate their physical activity by as much as 51 percent. When scientists at the USDA's Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland asked 98 men and women how much they ate in a 24-hour period, they found that 6 out of 7 women underreported by an average of 621 calories, and 6 out of 10 men underreported by an average of 581 calories.

Well, I guess people are doing more than just lying to the Department of Motor Vehicles about their weight - looks like it might be time for everyone to start a food journal just to keep us honest.   I wonder how much of this results as well from the way that food is packaged and marketed and from a lack of knowledge about serving sizes.  I know that I tend to think that I can eat more chocolate mini-bars and still feel that I am not overeating.  Indeed, I perhaps would answer a question about my chocolate consumption with a statement that I have had only a few pieces of chocolate when I probably ate a sufficient number of mini-bars  to equal  two king size candy bars. 

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