Why Dieters Fail: A Mission to Find Innovators and Outliers

Monday, September 26, 2011

For most of us, finding a good solid set of statistics confirms what we want to believe. Not for Bob Moesta and the rest of the Re-Wired Group. Take this example of a recent startling discovery about dieters failing to keep off the weight.

When I showed Bob this article and pointed out the part in the article that showed people who don't fail at dieting actually end up subconsciously eating more as a reaction to their own dieting, he urged me to "find the outliers."

Scientists have concluded that the standard practice of restricting a specific number of calories every day is actually not enough for people to lose weight and stay thin. Here's a key point in the article:

The model shows that lasting weight loss takes a long time to achieve and suggests that more effective weight loss programs might be undertaken in two phases: a temporary, more aggressive change in behavior at first, followed by a second phase of a more relaxed but permanent behavioral change that can prevent the weight regain that afflicts so many dieters despite their best intentions.

Bob thought about this and sent back an email:

So where is the innovation and where are the innovators? If human body is the "system" and that is how it works, then what do we do? Nothing? I don't think so.
This is the problem with protocol medicine. everything has to be proven the scientific method and applied across the human species. but what about environmental, history and culture factors? What about situational context? Innovation in medicine has to look beyond the obvious and find the second and third order effects and build simple ways to help everyone compensate not control our way to health. We know what doen't not work on average, but what about the tails - the really successful and the really unsuccessful. what can we learn from them.

The key is that we don't know enough. We believe easily enough in science and the general conclusions it creates to think that an overall statistic is worth its weight. It's most likely not. What Bob and the other innovators at Re-Wired realize is that there are facts, and then there are the human experiences that determine our reception of those facts.

It's how we received, and then act on, the information from our experience with those facts that determines the job that gets done.

What does dieting get done for you? What do you do to get dieting done?

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