Did this headline catch your attention? Hope so – I’ve been motivated by the current TV sweeps period.
The sweeps period happens three times a year. It is when advertising rates are set based on the number of viewers. To entice viewership, television content during these times tends to be especially tawdry and sensational. There will be tales of corruption, family drama, and other assorted storylines about murder and mayhem.
While everything gets amped up on TV during the sweeps period, stories about weight and nutrition tend to be totally over the top year-round. Media hype overshadows real outcomes.
Here are some headlines from my Facebook feed just this morning:
- 3 Morning Coconut Oil Rituals that Will Change Your Life (No. 3 is IMPORTANT)
- Slim Down in 2 Weeks
- Ladies: Tap Here if you have 12-28 to cut off that scale!
- 9 Morning Detox Rituals That Will Change Your Life (no. 2 is IMPORTANT).
Wow, that’s a lot of life-changing. A whole lot of IMPORTANT. And all those good things happen so quickly, too.
This is the problem with the huge majority of information about weight and health that you’ll come across on a daily basis: the report is out of proportion to the real content.
Everything’s reported as a secret. A miracle. Or, if it comes from the opposing viewpoint, it’s from Big- (fill in the blank) (Big Pharma, Big Business, and so on). Therefore, any results are corrupted.
Here’s a summary of how health, nutrition, and weight information is most often communicated in mass media and social media:
- Bossy – Do this, not that, and you’ll have perfect health and a bikini-bod.
- Divisive – There must be a villain, like Big Pharma.
- Dramatic – Desired results are exaggerated, even fabricated (say it ain’t so!).
- Non-nuanced language – Scientific studies do not use words like “prove” or “miracle.” Rather, you’ll see words like “suggest” or “promising.” Also, any one scientific study is rarely enough to come to major conclusions. There needs to be a body of work supporting (or disproving) a hypothesis.
Reading between the lines will go a long way to preventing you from chasing after every starry promise.
So by the way, what is the dirty little secret the weight loss industry won’t tell you?
Basically, it’s that having weight loss as your major goal will lead you astray. I’m pretty sure that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s where the body of research studies points. And if you reflect on your own history of weight loss and regain, that has probably been your experience, too.
When you set out to lose weight, it’s likely that you will, but only for the short run. The consistent long-term outcome is weight regain – and it’s often more pounds than where you started. Unfortunately, your new, higher weight may also become your new set point.
When you focus on health, though, you can enjoy improvements in physical and mental health, regardless of your weight. You might lose weight. But even if you don’t, you will unchain your self-esteem from your scale or your jeans size.
I’m curious – what’s the craziest, most dramatic, or funniest health-related headline you’ve ever seen? Post in the comments.
Image staging courtesy of PlaceIt