Monday, July 9, 2012

Busting Myths: Does Dr. Oz Have A Monopoly?

Yesterday, I wrote about Dr. Oz's suggestion to snack with up to 200 calories two hours before eating your dinner in order to lose weight. There seemed to be no good logic to doing so. Imagine my surprise when today I get an email from, which is at least partially owned by Dr. Oz (see with the headline, "3 New Weight Loss Myths Busted."

Here is my favorite myth the article clams to bust.

"Myth 1: Eat five mini meals throughout the day.
The initial idea was to eat small, healthy amounts of food every couple of hours to keep blood sugar levels steady and energy high. The trouble is, many people end up eating what amounts to five full meals. "I find that people do much better when they sit down and have three balanced meals a day with two small snacks in between," says nutrition counselor Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD. "Real meals stave off hunger. If you eat tiny bits throughout the day, you're hungry all the time."

This is diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive to Dr. Oz's concept of eating a small meal, which he calls a 200 calorie snack, two hours before dinner. Which is it? He probably doesn't even know, but busting myths seems to be one of his favorite concepts on his show. It's as if he has a monopoly on doing so. However, I never thought that in the span of one week, I would see him connected to both creating and busting a myth.

Here is another myth supposedly debunked by the article.

Myth 2: Eat less by using small plates. Studies have shown that large plates lead to more eating because they make portions look smaller, but the small-plates idea only works if there's a limited amount of food to put on the plate. In a recent diet study at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, 10 overweight and 10 normal-weight women were randomly assigned a large or small plate for eating lunch on two different days, then allowed to serve themselves. The result? The ladies ate until they were full, regardless of plate size. "Make what you need, or measure the amount before putting it on a plate, then put things away," recommends Tallmadge, who was not involved in the study. "It's having easy access to food that keeps you eating more."

Contrary to what RealAge would have you believe, there is actually science that confirms the small plate approach to weight loss. See for a review of the science. Brain Wainsink of Cornell University is one of the leading food investigators in the U.S. After reading his book, Mindless Eating, I am more inclined to trust his studies over the new study. I also know it works because it worked for me. I switched from a larger to a smaller bowl for my breakfast and never missed a beat on my way to a 20+ pound weight loss. Either way, with the conflicting study results, I hope you agree that this does not fall into the myth-busting category; however, it should fall into the sensationalistic headline one.

Here's a quote from Dr. Oz's website under the title "5 Diet Myths Making You Gain Weight" about the small plate issue:

"Dieters have been advised to eat from smaller plates in order to limit the amount they eat. Why? Because smaller plates make regular portions look larger. However, new research published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that plate size had no impact on the calorie consumption of either normal weight or obese individuals. Despite these findings, Dr. Oz still recommends using small plates to help guide you in terms of how much you eat. But use them the right way – a small plate is not an excuse to pile on food vertically or go back for seconds."

So what are we expected to trust? The Dr. Oz Show or a website Dr. Oz has ownership in?

The third myth the article purports to bust is "it doesn't matter what meal plan you're on because you'll lose weight as long as you stick to it." Really, any food you eat as long as you stick to it will help you lose weight? The study the article referenced used 5 specific plans. There is definitely more than one way to lose weight, but the meal plan (and total number of calories) will always matter.

It is because of articles such as this one and the Dr. Oz Show that there is so much confusion out there that allows anyone to claim he or she is busting a myth. Besides, I caution trusting anyone that constantly claims they are a myth-buster. Wouldn't it be better if shows and websites just presented the science in layperson's terms and let intelligent people make the decision on their own. I think so. Do you agree?


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