Around the web

Image courtesy of Rudd image gallery.

Image courtesy of Rudd image gallery.

A useful discussion of how to say the right thing to someone in hospital (or other bad situation.)

Christianity Today wonders if antidepressants keep people from God.  Fred Clark at Slacktivist responds:

No pious jackasses sit around pondering “Should Christians Take Insulin?” No insufferably holier-than-thou idiots pretend it would be deeply spiritual if they said, “Rattlesnake anti-venom can help, but it can also hinder our reliance on Christ.” Or “An emergency appendectomy may sometimes be beneficial, but only if we’re careful not to allow it to overshadow our true savior.”

Obesity Panacea debunks the latest “Paying people to lose weight is the ticket!” study, noting that the weight was regained during the 3-month follow-up:

Over the course of the 4 month intervention individuals in the incentive groups earned an average of approximately $300, in contrast to $0 awarded to those in the control group. Interestingly, the average weight loss achieved by those receiving a financial incentive was significantly greater as compared to that of the control group (13-14lbs vs. 4 lbs, respectively). Furthermore, only 10% of individuals in the control group versus approximately 50% of those in the incentive groups achieved the target weight-loss of 16lbs.

However, during a subsequent 3-month follow-up, study participants gained back much of the lost weight after the cessation of the financial incentives – a finding which is common to most, if not all, weight-loss intervention studies.

[…]

[I]ts a cute and gimmicky approach to providing incentive for weight loss, and the idea makes for great headlines (as recently illustrated). I’m sure financial incentives can work for some, but this is no obesity panacea.

(emphasis added)

At ASDAH’s HAES Blog, Fall Ferguson has an interesting question about the opportunity cost of society’s obsession with weight & thinness:

[W]hat do we forego as a society when we allocate precious social, economic, cognitive, emotional, and physiological resources toward pursuing and maintaining our weight-based paradigm of health?

Some of the damages discussed are to public health, proper health care for many thin and fat people, productivity, fun, creativity, self-esteem, and happiness.  I know many who’ve found that abandoning weight loss efforts provided more time and energy for LIFE, such as school and work.  (In our current culture, it can also mean accepting difference.)  But it’s worth thinking about: What could be accomplished if we weren’t wasting so much effort on weight?

3 thoughts on “Around the web

  1. It is truly amazing what people can keep up for three or four months because of financial incentive… but once the financial incentive is gone, almost nobody keeps doing what the money was encouraging them to do. Combine that with the fact that every single long-term weight-loss study done in the past sixty years results in nearly everyone weighing at least as much as they did to begin with and the majority weighing more than they started out weighing, and all I can see with monetary incentives to lose weight is yet more of the same old, same old spiral of shame, frustration, panic, depression, and worsening health outcomes well documented for sixty damn years and change.

    Seriously, when are people going to get it? LONG TERM WEIGHT LOSS DOES NOT WORK FOR MORE THAN A TINY FRACTION OF ALL PEOPLE, EVER. And the only long-term study ever done on the health effects of long-term weight loss was ended two years early with a result of ‘it doesn’t work.’

    If we’re so damn worried about peoples’ health, then why not work on improving access to health care, making fresh foods more available to those who wish to eat them, and creating safe, pleasant environments for people to enjoy a variety of ways of moving? Why not work on removing stigma so people can accept their bodies and their worth as human beings?

    When are people going to figure out that doing even more of what doesn’t work in the first place probably isn’t going to work, either?

    Humph.

  2. This is tangential to the main topic, but psychologist Alfie Kohn has books with study after study indicating that rewarding efforts with money does not work well in the long term. If you underpay people, they perform poorly. But past a certain level, added pay or bonuses or incentives does not improve productivity, morale, creativity, employee retention, etc… except for the very simplest of jobs, like harvesting crops or cutting grass.

    I think this topic is fascinating and could discuss it all day. One aspect of pay-for-performance as a problem is that it devalues the activity being done. Kids paid to read books tend to read less after the payments stop then children that were never paid to read books. College students paid to work on particular types of problems displayed measurably less interest in that kind of problem after the program ended. etc… etc… (It fascinates me how this research is counter to American accepted business practices. Companies pay top dollar under the assumption it will get them the best performance out of the best people. It doesn’t – but I guess if you’re one of the people collecting a six or seven figure salary for mediocre performance, it’s a conflict of interest to suggest some other business model.)

    So even if you believed that sustained fat loss is possible, paying people to lose weight would work exactly as long as you continued the payments. Then people on the program are likely to have even less motivation to diet than those in the control group.

    On Christianity and medicine… don’t get me started. :) My evolution (heh) of belief went from devout Catholic to devout United Church of Christ (a very politically liberal Christian denomination, at least in my part of the US) to atheist.

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