Rilke off the Diet: You Must Change Your Life

America has faced an obesity epidemic for some time, leading to a thriving diet business.  But it turns out that dieting may be counterproductive.  More on this finding, and liposuction as a technology for the compression of discomfort into pain, below.

UCLA researchers have produced a meta-study to come to the following conclusions:

In 10 studies in which nutritional scientists tracked the weight of people who put themselves on any diet of their choosing . . . only one described lasting weight loss, two showed no long-term effect, and the remaining seven studies found that dieting led to weight gain in the long run.

In th[e best] study, the experimental subjects were kept on their low-calorie diets for 18 months without other weight-loss interventions (like medications, exercise, or even pep talks) and their weight was measured again a year after the diet ended. A comparison of the dieting subjects with the control group (who were, instead, placed on a waiting list for a diet) showed some weight loss a year post-diet, but it was disappointingly small: an average decrease of 3.75 pounds. The other six long-term studies (which were muddier because they included other interventions besides diet) showed similarly unimpressive results.

Slate writer Spiesel concludes that the “the hard fact is that [the overweight] should never stop dieting.”  In other words, as it stands, one must change one’s life in order to lose weight.

But there is a technological fix: the increasingly popular option of liposuction. On the policy side here, I’m pretty much with Naomi Wolf–it’s a terrible choice due to the pain and risks involved.  But as technology improves, it’s probable that those risks will subside.  Lipo may then accelerate as a technology for compressing the routine discomfort of diet-and-exercise into the intense pain of a single procedure and its aftermath.  And if the pain goes away, it just involves trading that diet-discomfort for money.

I’ve examined technology as a force for this new frontier commodification in a piece that will soon come out in the Minn. J. L. Sci. & Tech.; I’ll have it on SSRN soon. . . but I’m happy to email it to anyone interested in it now.

2 thoughts on “Rilke off the Diet: You Must Change Your Life

  1. Thanks for the R.M.R.; (I’m up studying contracts for the PA Bar Exam), and it’s always helpful to remind myself, or be reminded, of the crucial lines of certain poems.

    Does it get any better than Rilke? I haven’t found so.

    Sorry, the diet stuff is great too.

  2. Thanks, Donald. For more, see Isherwood’s review of Xanadu in today’s NYT: “In Xanadu did Newton-John a blooming film career destroy.”

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