A recent interview published on the website of controversial "lifestyle brand" Goop, which is owned by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, has recently come under fire. The piece is a Q&A with Dr Traci Mann from the University of Minnesota who works on the psychology of dieting and healthy eating.
In the interview, she talks about some of the reasons why dieting fails, misconceptions about willpower, and the crucial role of biology when it comes to limiting our food intake. She also describes the concept of a "leanest liveable weight", which has gained criticism.
“Your 'leanest livable weight' is the weight at the low end of your 'set range.' Your set range is a genetically determined range of weight that your body generally keeps you in, despite your efforts to escape it,” Dr Mann said in the piece. “If you stay within your set range – at the lower end of it – you should be able to maintain that weight without your body making those negative changes.”
Speaking at New Scientist Live in London, Dr Giles Yeo, a geneticist from Cambridge University who studies food intake, took issue with the concept of aiming for your "leanest livable weight", as many people could interpret it to mean you should aim to be the absolute thinnest you can be.
“It is irresponsible because the idea is so open to misinterpretation, especially for young girls susceptible to eating disorders. The problem with many of Goop’s recommendations is that they are not based on science, but pseudoscience,” said Yeo, The Independent reports.
In the Goop piece, Mann states that there is no scientific way to estimate your leanest livable weight but provides an approach to get an approximate value for it. She says to look for the weight that your body seems to fluctuate around when you're eating and exercising sensibly. However, Yeo considers the concept of calculating this leanest livable weight "silly".
“It is therefore nigh-on impossible to find a target to stick to," he stated. "People should not be afraid of food, and ‘diet’ should not have become such a loaded term. Goop is part of the reason that people have become afraid of eating. We need to love our food, just eat less of it.”
“I am strongly and clearly opposed to strict dieting," Mann told The Daily Mail in response to the criticism. "In fact, the article is specifically about not dieting, not trying to lose too much weight and not doing anything unhealthy or extreme. The phrase 'leanest liveable weight' refers to the leanest weight you can be without doing any strict dieting or unhealthy behavior.”
Still, regardless of Mann's intentions, it's fair to say that the term "leanest livable weight" could very easily be misinterpreted to mean the absolute minimum weight that your body can survive on, which could encourage dangerous dieting and exercise regimens.
[H/T: The Independent]