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Nutr J. 2010 Jul 20;9:30. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-30.

Validity of claims made in weight management research: a narrative review of dietetic articles.

Author information

  • Applied Research Centre in Health & Lifestyle Interventions, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences, Coventry University, Coventry, CV1 5FB, UK. aa0059@coventry.ac.uk



The best available evidence demonstrates that conventional weight management has a high long-term failure rate. The ethical implications of continued reliance on an energy deficit approach to weight management are under-explored.


A narrative literature review of journal articles in The Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics from 2004 to 2008.


Although the energy deficit approach to weight management has a high long-term failure rate it continues to dominate research in the field. In the current research agenda, controversies and complexities in the evidence base are inadequately discussed, and claims about the likely success of weight management misrepresent available evidence.


Dietetic literature on weight management fails to meet the standards of evidence based medicine. Research in the field is characterised by speculative claims that fail to accurately represent the available data. There is a corresponding lack of debate on the ethical implications of continuing to promote ineffective treatment regimes and little research into alternative non-weight centred approaches. An alternative health at every size approach is recommended.

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