Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lose Weight by Osmosis

Today I'm going to talk about a study that I had thought of doing and now clearly don't have to.

It's about something I've termed, "osmotic weight loss"

Simple study - 357 husbands and wives weighed themselves and completed self-reported food and lifestyle inventories at the onset of an intensive lifestyle intervention and 12 months later. They then compared these with the same data from a control group of 357 husband and wife teams at the beginning and end of a diabetic education program. The catch is, only one member of the husband and wife teams was actually enrolled in the weight loss, or diabetes education, programs.

The untreated spouses at 12 months also completed a questionnaire detailing the number of high and low fat foods in the home, the number of snack foods in visible locations and something called the Exercise Environment Questionnaire.

The results?

Untreated spouses in the diabetes program lost 0.19% of their starting body weight while the spouses from the intensive lifestyle intervention weight loss program lost 2.7% of their starting weights. The untreated weight loss spouses also reported decreased availability and access to high-fat and snack foods in their homes. Exercise wise, there was no difference.

So what does this teach us? Lifestyle interventions affect more than simply the program participant. The reason I wanted to do this study was the simple fact that I observe the same phenomenon constantly in my patients' families.

The next study I'd like to see would be a comparison of osmotic weight loss between different weight loss programs and approaches.

My hypothesis would be that less sustainable approaches (all liquid diets, heavy use of supplements, highly restrictive approaches, etc.), would not share a spousal osmotic relationship perhaps due to the non-enjoyable and non-sustainable nature of the participants' interventions.

Remember, unless you actually enjoy your lifestyle as you lose your weight, you're liable to gain it back and here clearly if you in fact do enjoy your lifestyle, others around you might well take notice and learn from your successes.

Osmosis works.

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  1. What an interesting study! Everyone keeps on talking about how parents have an impact on their kids, but very little attention is placed on the impact that couples have on each other.

    I think it would've been interesting to see whether the untreated or treated person was the primary decision-maker when it came to food shopping would've made a difference.

    I was actually a little worried when I first saw the post title because I thought you were going to talk about a "weight loss method" that involved actual osmosis!

  2. This is a very interesting study, thanks for sharing your results. Something that may have helped your study is the use of a food journal. This way everyone can write down what they eat to see what foods gave them energy or made them feel good, or the foods that made them tired. This way people can see what foods work with their body.