Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Has Obesity Research Failed?

I frequently encounter the argument that obesity research has failed because it hasn't stopped the global increase in obesity rates.  According to this argument, we need to re-think our approach to obesity research because the current approach just isn't working.

Grant funding for obesity research keeps increasing in the US, and the prevalence of obesity also keeps increasing*.  What gives?  Maybe if we just scrapped the whole endeavor we'd be better off.

Let's take a closer look at this argument and see how it holds up.

Why Do Research?

There are two fundamental reasons why we do research:
  1. To gather accurate information about the natural world.  This information is intrinsically valuable because we like knowing how the world works, and it may eventually have practical value that's not immediately obvious.
  2. Practical applications.  We want to solve problems and improve our lives.
If we want to determine whether or not obesity research has failed, we should evaluate it using those two metrics.

Has Obesity Research Gathered Accurate Information?

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