Hall, Freedhoff and when weight loss differences do matter

Does it matter what diet you use, to lose weight? In a recent article, the low-carb skeptics Kevin Hall and Yoni Freedhoff argue that it doesn’t really matter.

And if low-carb diets happen to cause more weight loss in study after study, that extra weight loss surely isn’t large enough to matter either.

If it all reminds you of a certain Fox in Aesop’s fables, you’re not that far off. For some more detail, check out this new rebuttal from Professor Grant Schofield:

Prof. Schofield: Response to Freedhoff and Hall – the differences between diets do matter

While ignoring all 19+ studies showing significantly more weight loss on low carb might save Freedhoff and Hall some cognitive dissonance, it’s hardly going to advance the scientific field. Neither is it likely to help anyone lose any weight at all.


The TL;DR version is that they’re taking the long-term average outcome of people – when most are not adhering long term – as evidence of a modest effect for the intervention.

But they would get the same result from interventions to get people to stop smoking. When most people relapse (at least the first time they try quitting) the average health effect would be modest. Would they then draw the same conclusion, that trying to get people to stop smoking was nothing to bother with, even if it did show a significant positive effect?


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  1. Eric
    Time restricted feeding from Salk institute lab of doctor pandas lab. Reframes the entire discussion.

    Let's have the a to z diet study with 8 hour feeding times. Use the smart phone app from the Salk institute's research.

  2. Brenda E
    I lost a significant amount of weight on Weight Watchers some time ago, in a reasonably short time frame. The weight is coming off more slowly with low carb, but 30 years and post menopausal can easily explain the discrepancy. What I appreciate is that this time I am not tracking anything. Every once in a while, when reading the comments, I think maybe I should track my macronutrients for possibly better results, but it just takes me back to those WW trackers and I think, no, that is just not a natural way to eat and is unsustainable in the long run. Without the carbs my hunger signals are not screwed up and I've learned to trust them. For me, faster is not necessarily better.
  3. 1 comment removed
  4. Apicius
    Dr Eenfeldt , help me understand why you are still including Yoni's blog on this site? I don't understand. Clearly, Yoni is a quack. A couple of years ago, he went after beef, telling people it was unhealthy and stay away. He then "woke up" and apologized for being such a misguided idiot, leading people in the wrong direction, telling them now it's ok to eat beef. Last year, in Canada, he was featured in a documentary, where he was eating a pasta dish, while telling the interviewer that it is stupid to reduce grains from your diet. We now have to wait for him to "wake up" again? Yoni continues to mislead the public with his biased BS. Pleeeeeeeeaaaaaaaase get rid of his blog link from this site. He does not represent the views of this community and he continues to throw daggers at the science behind LCHF. What will it take for you to realize how dangerous this guy's rhetoric is?
    Replies: #5, #7
  5. bill
    Well put Apicius.

    Dr. E?

  6. gbl
    Rational disagreement is never dangerous. If a theory cannot be questioned, it's cultish.
  7. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, MD Team Diet Doctor
    I appreciate some different viewpoints from time to time (e.g. Freedhoff and Guyenet), even if I think they are mistaken in some ways. I think it's always good to regularly question what we believe that we know for sure.
    Reply: #11
  8. Eric
    How about time restricted feeding? The results from Salk institute's research and doctor pandas lab is better than eating all day no matter the diet.
  9. 2 comments removed
  10. Apicius
    With all respect, doctor. Not sure I'm following the logic. I'm a paying site member...because I want to actively support LCHF, the scientists, the doctors, the activists, etc. Why would I want to see my money provide web space for Yoni's anti low carb rants blog, Guyanet equally insane perspective, and other questionable blogs, like authority nutrition advocating oatmeal and healthy whole grains. Confused.
    If you want to keep them on the website, create another page called "LCHF challenger blogs". Don't mix low quality with good quality content.
    Replies: #12, #13
  11. BobM
    Apicius, I tend to agree with you, although I'm not sure how to go about this. For instance, Nom Nom Paleo is really not low carb, but she does have many recipes that are low carb (and great). And you can make them higher fat without too much trouble. For the recipes that are too high in carb and are difficult to convert to low carb, I ignore them (or we make them for our kids, since they're still good but just a bit too carby). Should Nom Nom Paleo also be banned?

    Perhaps reorganizing the "New" blog website to have low carb/ketosis websites at the top, Paleo/Primal in the middle, and the more questionable sites at the bottom would help?

  12. bill
    Right again, Apicius.

    With his logic, why doesn't Dr. E link
    to CarbSane? Gotta have challenges.

  13. Amy
    I totally agree that we need some kind of filter, symbol, category or other means of sorting the information so as not to create confusion especially for newcomers to the site and this lifestyle. For someone who has never heard of Freedoff or Guyenet and are just getting started learning the right ways of eating, having those blogs lumped in with all the rest could be misguiding. I'll admit I had to google those two to figure out which blogs were theirs since I don't read every blog.
    Dr. E please address this situation.
  14. Tracy Kolenchuk
    As long as the goal is 'weight loss' these arguments about diet amount to noise. Weight loss in itself is simply not a health goal. Weight loss can be successful, and healthy. Weight loss can be successful and unhealthy. The illusion that weight loss = healthy is simply that. If we want to improve healthiness, we need to study healthiness before weight loss.

    Someday, we will measure the health of a group of people, then prescribe a dietary change, and after some time on the new diet, measure their health again.

    There's only one small problem. We have lots of tools to measure disease, even pre-disease, but when patients present no disease, we have no tools to measure healthiness. We don't even have any idea where to start, so poor is our understanding of health.
    To your health, Tracy
    Founder: Healthicine.

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