Quoting from the email, “The researchers followed more than 4,600 women aged 65 and older over the course of nearly five years. The study found the women with low levels of vitamin D gained about two more pounds during that time than those with normal levels of the vitamin.” How about that? A whole two pounds more. Is that consistent with what you expected from the headline? Two whole pounds gained over 5 years? I’m sure we all expected that from the headline, right? That’s not all. Which women do you think gained the weight? It turns out to quote the article again, it was the “women [who] generally weighed several pounds more to begin with, the researchers noted.” So the heavier women gained more weight. Not a big surprise that an overweight person would gain more weight as is often the case.
But that’s not the funny part I referenced earlier.
Here’s the funny, or not so funny, part. The article goes on to say, “Although most of the women in the study were not trying to lose weight, over the course of the study 27 percent of the women lost more than 5 percent of their body weight and 12 percent gained more than 5 percent of their body weight, the researchers noted.”So despite the vitamin D deficiency or perhaps because of it, which apparently according to this study was present in 78% of the tested women, more women actually LOST weight than gained it.
Accordingly, why wasn’t the headline “Low Vitamin D Levels Linked To Weight Loss in Older Women” or even “Low Vitamin D Levels Linked To Weight Gain, Weight Loss, and No Weight Change in Older Women.” Now that would have been an accurate headline.
So was the article a total loss? No. Here’s the only semi-reasonable comment coming from the article and I quote, “"Our study only shows an association between insufficient levels of vitamin D and weight gain," study author Dr. Erin LeBlanc, an endocrinologist and researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Oregon said. "We would need to do more studies before recommending the supplements to keep people from gaining weight. Since there are so many conflicting recommendations about taking vitamin D for any reason, it's best if patients get advice from their own health care provider."
Finally, a little bit of sense although given the 27% of women actually lost weight it would be more logical to suggest that Vitamin D supplementation should NEVER be used as a weight loss tool.
So as I often recommend, please don’t trust headlines, even from government sources. You need to, at a minimum, read the entire article and ideally, look at the actual study if you want to even get close to the truth. Of course, even looking at the study is not a safe bet because so many studies are done by unreliable sources with an agenda, who manipulate the science, if it even is actual science, in their favor.
So what’s a person to do? Send the article or study it to me. I love to look at interesting studies and dissect them looking for the truth. Consider me your personal truth seeker.