Study results as news headlines should always make you skeptical. They’re usually pushed by a coordinated PR machine. You have to pay for headlines and news packages. News stations don’t just do research, find interesting stories and then decide to report on them. No, when you see a headline, somebody’s getting paid.
In that veign, a ridiculous study hit the news wires recently: To curb childhood obesity, trim 64 excess calories a day says study.
One way to halt soaring childhood obesity rates in countries like the US? Cut 64 excess calories a day, on average, from children’s diets, claim US scientists in a new study published on Tuesday.
While shaving 64 calories may not seem like a lot, researchers from Columbia University state that doing so can make a big impact in reducing obesity rates by 2020 in the nation. Add in a healthy dose of exercise and the combination of reduced calories and enhanced activity could “close the gap” between how many calories young people are consuming and how many they expend, said the researchers.
It takes about 5 seconds to understand that this is total bull crap. As soon as I saw the headline I reached over my desk and picked up a bag of salted almonds. There are 64 calories in 10 almonds. There’s also 64 calories in 1 tablespoon of an average salad dressing. So, you’re saying to me that eating 10 almonds a day or 1 extra tablespoon of salad dressing will result in 4 pounds of difference over a decade? That’s a level of fine grained detail that is impossible – even if it were true.
But, it’s not true anyway. Our bodies don’t respond to the calories we force into them by growing. It’s the other way around. Our bodies require a certain amount of energy, and we accommodate that need by eating more or fewer calories. You don’t control a child’s growth by giving and withholding food. Their bodies are driven to grow from the inside. If you don’t give it food you will “stunt” it’s growth, not control it.
The amount of calories you eat is basically irrelevant. It’s what’s in the calories that matters. 2500 calories a day worth of fast food combo meals, sugary sodas and desserts will make most people blow up like a balloon. Conversely, 2564 calories a day worth of meat, dairy and non-starch vegetables will make most people drop weight like a rock. The 64 calories of difference are meaningless.
Simply talking about calories being good or bad without talking about the content of those calories is like talking about art being good or bad when it’s locked in a room with the lights turned off.