It’s taking time, but I am working my way through a study, an article and a commentary surrounding some recent work by Dr. Katarina Borer and colleagues on endocrine, appetite and exercise.
I believe I mentioned that Dr. Borer contacted me in response to my Open Letter to Weight Management Scientists. I may have also mentioned that she said my postings were, ahem, interesting and remarkably well informed for a person who is not actively engaged in research. I am digging deep to find my inner objective scientist who would not be moved by such flattery.
I am working my way through these pieces simultaneously because they are based on the same trials, but they present two sets of conclusions. The first set may be found in the study itself, entitled Appetite Responds to Changes in Meal Content, Whereas Ghrelin, Leptin and Insulin Track Changes in Energy Availability and was published in July 2009 in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. To give credit where due, her co-scientists are Elizabeth Wuorinen, Kimberly Ku and Charles Burant, not that those names are meaningful to me. Actually, very few of the names in this line of research are meaningful to me . . . yet.
The way I read a study or article is to turn first to the footnotes to get an idea of the bricks that form the foundation for the work or thought at hand. I screen through the lens of my own evaluation system to determine what biases are present. Mostly, in the past, I have read studies that are solely obesity focused, and, whether they admit to it or not, most scientists in this area come with one or more biases. Some feel that obesity is a medical and social ill that must be reversed or cured, and their research is colored by that view – it may prevent them from seeing certain options. Some of these scientists have accepted support from commercial interests – diet companies, foundations associated with pharmaceutical companies, and the like, and that makes their work horribly suspect. Others who publish in this realm are testing the “Health at Every Size” paradigm, or, more accurately, are Hell bent on proving the efficacy of that model, and that limits their view. In any event, I often can see a study or article’s self-imposed limitations in its footnotes. Certain names pop up together over and over, and they indicate a point of view.
I don’t have a grasp of such biases and limitations in the world of endocrine and exercise. In this world, obesity and weight loss are sometimes the focus, but often just confounding factors. With the exception of Cummings et. al., who produced a Ghrelin study that I happened upon by accident, I recognized no one. I am, therefore, trusting that these are all sterling people, and none is a “scientist for sale.” Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Read the rest of this entry »