Challenge Answers, Winners, & What It All Means

1SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
1/22/2009 12:28 PM   :  84 comments

Last week, I challenged you to identify whether 5 very common statements about obesity and health were true or false. 1,352 of you participated, but the number of people who were correct about all 5 statements was...well, a lot less than that.

I’m not sure of the total number of correct responses (it would have taken me all day to go through and find all of them), but I had to go all the way up to comment #265 to find the 25th winner of a 100 point SparkGoodie, and by the time I got to comment #500, the total of correct answers was less than 50. In other words, less than 10% of the responses were correct about all 5 statements.

So, if you didn’t get all 5 right, you weren’t alone (in fact, by far the most common answer—that all 5 statements were true—was wrong about all 5 statements). But don’t feel too bad–the questions were deliberately worded in a way that made it easy to make a mistake. In fact, that was really one of the major points of this challenge—to demonstrate that it’s very easy for anyone to take a “fact” and present it in a way that leads to a certain conclusion, when the fact itself doesn’t lead there at all. And it isn’t always easy to spot when this is going on.

Each of the 5 statements in this challenge presents a good example of how facts get turned into widely held impressions and assumptions that aren’t really accurate, and could potentially cause problems for people. So, let’s take a look at the statements and the correct answers, and then we can talk a little about what this all means in the real world.



Statement No. 1

Obesity causes health risks, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

FALSE. Obesity is associated with these medical conditions, but the evidence doesn’t support the idea that it causes them. Most researchers suggest that other factors (especially genetics and physical inactivity) most likely cause both the obesity and the other medical conditions.

Statement No. 2

People with a BMI in the “normal” range have a lower risk of mortality than those in higher (or lower) BMI ranges.

FALSE. The weight at which the lowest mortality rates occur is either very close to or within the “overweight” category, depending on your age, gender and race. For example, for Caucasians under 55, the lowest death rate is at a BMI of 24.5, and for African Americans it is at 27. For women over 55, these numbers are 26.5 and 29.8 for these two racial groups. (Overweight = BMI of 25 to 29.9).

Statement No.3

Losing weight will definitely reduce your risks of health problems and premature death.

FALSE. 15 of the largest and most comprehensive long-term studies indicate that dieting, especially repetitive dieting or “weight cycling,” is actually associated with increased health risks. Researchers suggest this is because loss of too much muscle, bone, and organ tissue may jeopardize health.

Statement No. 4

As long as it is not taken to extremes, dieting is a safe, proven, and effective weight loss method.

FALSE. There is no diet plan that is safe, proven, or effective for everyone, and there are no diets that have actually been proven to be safe or effective over the long-term. Most diets haven’t been studied long enough to provide evidence about their long-term effectiveness, and virtually all weight-loss treatments and approaches can only be considered experimental at this point, including medications and surgery as well as eating plans. There is even controversy over whether maintaining a calorie deficit will necessarily cause weight loss in all people, or what kind of weight will be lost (fat, muscle, etc). And finally, it’s clear that dieting frequently leads to unhealthy weight cycling and also to disordered eating for many people, and those things aren’t safe.

Statement No. 5

The two most effective motivations for losing weight are fear of the health risks caused by obesity, and the desire to conform to social standards regarding body size, shape, and appearance.

FALSE. It’s probably true that these are the two most common reasons why people set out to lose weight. But starting out and reaching your goal are two very different things, and the evidence indicates that, for individuals, “sticking with it” depends far more on intrinsic motivations than on these two extrinsic motivations. On a social level, it’s very clear that both increased social pressures to be thin and increased knowledge of the connection between obesity and health problems have gone hand in hand with rapidly rising rates of obesity. That makes it hard to see how these two things can be viewed as effective motivators for losing weight. The reality may well turn out to be that these external pressures are actually aggravating the situation for many people, leading to hazardous short-term weight cycling, poor nutrition, disordered eating, body hatred, increased size discrimination, confusion and despair regarding what actually “works,” and other factors that increase stress, aggravate health problems, and undermine the ability to stick with a weight loss plan.


What does it all mean?

Well, one thing it doesn’t mean is that you should stop trying to lose weight. But it probably does mean it’s going to be important for you to ditch the “diet mentality” and switch to a “live it” mentality.

Another thing it does mean is that you shouldn’t believe anyone who tells you they’ve discovered the “secret” to weight loss, or guarantees results if you just use their product or follow their plan. The bottom line is that you are an experiment of one, and you’ll need to find out what your body needs in the way of food and exercise to reach your healthiest weight and stay there. Doctors and experts can help you identify the particular risk factors and challenges you have to work with, provide general information, and help you monitor your progress as you go along. But they can’t give you an exact blueprint to follow, or provide the motivation you’ll need to do whatever you need to do.

The good news is that you don’t have to look like a cover model to be healthy and fit. Just as being overweight doesn’t cause illness, being a normal weight doesn’t cause good health. The things that contribute to both good health and weight loss are your own behaviors—healthy eating and plenty of physical activity—not finding just the right diet plan, or reaching some particular number on the scale.


Congratulations to The Challenge Winners!

Here are the first 25 respondents who correctly identified all 5 statements as false. You can expect to see your SparkGoodie award on your SparkPage in the next day or two. Don’t spend it all in one place!

BMOYERS01
ACHIEVE100%
~NANAK~
KARACITA
LADYRINO
PAISANS
PRTTYMSTNG
THINKSKINNY
GALDES34
SERENDIPITY22
BOOSCOOTS
HEYLIZ
MCHAVEZTEX
SCOTTIEDOG
SUECOK
BRIAN36
CWESTMORE
K5GCM07
DCT9000
NEVERNAKED
DAILYSPARKS
QUIETNEAL
CONNIEROD
CMARTIN9
CINDYSUITT

So, how'd you do on the quiz, and what do you think of the answers?


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Comments

  • 84
    Not a good exam. As a college prof, my supervisors while training me on making tests would have given this one an "F." Sorry, Coach Dean, I usually love your articles--but to try and reduce the complex issues you were supposedly testing to true-false answers was unfair in the first place. You do make your point that "dieting" and "size" are not be-all end-all concepts, but to say that weight loss does not help health would be a fallacious statement as others have pointed out--the evidence is conflicting, not absolute. Oh well, this too is just my humble opinion. - 1/14/2011   8:36:44 AM
  • 83
    I didn't take the poll. However, I don't think much of the questions. They're the kind of trick questions that give true/false quizzes a bad name. - 7/7/2010   1:15:18 PM
  • 82
    I also missed the original article but after reading through I totally agree with SHADOZA - questions were deliberately misleading. - 7/7/2010   3:47:18 AM
  • 81
    I did not take the poll; however, after reading the questions, I can believe that very few people answered correctly. The questions themselves seem ambigous as they take a generalized question and provide an point-specific answer for each generalization. The design of the questions seem to be directed at "tripping up" the poll-taker where they attempt to answer a general question with a general answer. it seems to me that the "poll" was more an attitiude quest than a actually Q&A. If the questions were better written, there would have been more correct answers. - 7/28/2009   12:01:06 PM
  • 80
    Congratulations to the winners.....
    All right answers ... too late....
    Lessons learn...
    It's all good!!!
    HUGZZZ
    Mary Lou - 1/28/2009   11:51:46 AM
  • 79
    I was not surprised to learn that I had them 100% right!!! Just not in the first 25 who responded correctly. - 1/26/2009   12:58:02 AM
  • TIMMYO
    78
    Very educational ! I got half of them right ! Thanks for the survey - 1/25/2009   8:10:14 PM
  • 77
    I was surprised at the correct answers. I'll try to remember those answers as I work out now. - 1/25/2009   12:30:33 PM
  • 76
    Before joining this site, I would have failed this quiz - miserably.
    Now I know better though, which is a testament to how wonderful this site really is. I get not only motivation and support, but useful and reliable knowledge.
    Thank you Spark People... I absolutely could NOT do this without you! - 1/25/2009   7:52:07 AM
  • 75
    Great challenge. I got them all. There are always exceptions to every rule. Nothing in life i 100%. - 1/24/2009   8:29:17 PM
  • 74
    I came in on this so late, I knew I could not win because of how many people had already posted....but I would have answered False to all but the last one, which would have been 4/5. I think this was a great eye-opener and more contests like these should be posted. - 1/24/2009   6:24:10 PM
  • 73
    I did Awful. Congratulations to all the winner. At lease I learned something . Thanks. - 1/24/2009   5:54:44 PM
  • 72
    I got them all correct, but I was not in the 1st 25. Congrats to all of you. - 1/24/2009   3:42:14 PM
  • 71
    Thanks Coach Dean for the SparkGoodie! - 1/24/2009   2:04:55 PM
  • 70
    I had to laugh at number 2. There is nothing that will reduce your risk of mortality. No matter how fit you may be eventually you will die. I guess what was meant was "premature" mortality. - 1/24/2009   1:28:51 PM
  • 69
    They were worded so that you would first think that they were all true, which was my answer :( - 1/24/2009   1:02:25 PM
  • 68
    I answered True to the first two and False to the last three. Why are we all shooting for a BMI in the normal range if overweight is acceptable or even proven to be more effective for longevity? And, the difference between association and cause is subtle in terminology but HUGE in actuality. I do not believe most weight loss information uses the correct terminology and this is very very misleading to those of us fearing our obesity is going to "cause" us to have these issues.
    Can I get information as to your sources on these questions? I would love to provide this info to others, but would want to know where it came from. - 1/24/2009   12:00:00 PM
  • 67
    I took the quiz, but honestly don't recall my score. I knew though that the questions were worded in such a way as to make you question your instinctive answer.

    Now, Coach Dean, you said,
    "Statement No.3
    "Losing weight will definitely reduce your risks of health problems and premature death.
    "FALSE. 15 of the largest and most comprehensive long-term studies indicate that dieting, especially repetitive dieting or “weight cycling,” is actually associated with increased health risks. Researchers suggest this is because loss of too much muscle, bone, and organ tissue may jeopardize health."

    I have to disagree with you here. I do believe there are studies that prove that losing weight does reduce your risks of health problems and premature death (although you would have to define what exactly "premature death" includes or excludes, because, for example a dying in a car crash at say 25 may be considered a premature death, but has nothing to do with one's weight.)

    Your reasoning for the answer being false is that "dieting, especially repetitive dieting or “weight cycling,” is actually associated with increased health risks."

    The question had nothing to do with dieting. It had to do with weight loss. I'm currently losing weight as a result of a lifestyle change, not a diet. I'm doing strength training therefore I am NOT losing bone density or muscle mass, in fact I am building both up and I hope nothing horrid is happening to my organ tissue.


    - 1/24/2009   10:28:04 AM
  • 66
    Well, I got them all right- but then, I'm a member of the Coach team, I SHOULD get them right.
    Did it too slow- but I'm not worried about that!
    Thanks, Coach. I get reading, I keep learning. I keep integrating.
    - 1/24/2009   1:45:05 AM
  • LOSE4HEALTH
    65
    Very educational. I would have been wrong on almost all statements. I continue to learn..... - 1/23/2009   10:41:37 PM
  • 64
    I got them all right but I posted too late. Congrats to the winners! - 1/23/2009   10:21:04 PM
  • 63
    Same here. Got them all correct but not fast enough. :) Glad people know/knew better than to believe the statements.

    - Josie - 1/23/2009   9:28:40 PM
  • 62
    I got them all right! Didn't win though.
    - 1/23/2009   8:52:52 PM
  • 61
    Way To Go!! Winners!!!!!! - 1/23/2009   6:44:16 PM
  • NO-41_RAZZYS_PL
    60
    Well... I didn't get 100 points but I DID GET EVERY SINGLE ONE CORRECT, just didn't find the blog soon enough! - 1/23/2009   3:10:11 PM
  • 59
    I got them all right but I posted too late. Congrats to the winners!!!!!!!!!!!! - 1/23/2009   3:09:18 PM
  • 58
    This reminds me of one of my college professors who always tried to trick us into picking the wrong answers by wording the statement in a way that you are classified "WRONG" if you don't pay attention to every single word in the statement. A couple of questions were also based on interpretation of the question and answer. Oh well! - 1/23/2009   3:03:30 PM
  • 57
    Sorry, I laugh every time I hear statistics about "mortality rates." The mortality rate for overweight, "normal", and underweight people is exactly the same. 100%. Yup, you heard it here. We're all gonna die. - 1/23/2009   12:36:20 PM
  • 56
    "Statement one is False. It states: Obesity CAUSES health risks, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

    It is in the wording... It can CAUSE health risks in SOME people but no proof it CAUSES health risks in everyone. Simply that it was been linked to an INCREASE in health risks for certain diseases.

    So statement one is definitely false. It's all in the wording as Coach Dean says! :-"

    That is like saying that drunk driving doesn't increase the risk of accidents because not everyone who has ever driven drunk has had an accident.


    - 1/23/2009   12:33:52 PM
  • 55
    I was 100% WRONG! Ha, ha, ha! I thought that they were all true, TO A POINT. Didn't know you were trying to trick us! I usually bomb-out on these true/false things, so I'm not surprised!! - 1/23/2009   12:04:16 PM
  • 54
    I feel better now! I was aiming for a BMI of 25, and now I can feel really good about that goal. - 1/23/2009   11:38:31 AM
  • 53
    Thank you SPARKPEOPLE for a down to earth way to a better and healthier way of living. - 1/23/2009   11:24:55 AM
  • 52
    oops I meant lower or obese range. - 1/23/2009   11:24:46 AM
  • 51
    I got the answers right, which surprised me. They were tough questions and I think we are used to seeing information presented a certain way, so it's easy to mistake the answer. - 1/23/2009   11:11:12 AM
  • 50
    I got some .. i think it was the way that they were worded.. - 1/23/2009   11:10:48 AM
  • 49
    I still say that not calling this thing I am doing a diet is just denial. Of course I'll have to eat healthy, closer to this forever, and exercise - - - but the big thing is, I will not be eating 1350 or 1400 cals a day and trying to burn off 3500 cals a week in exercise. I probably be eating 1600 - 1800 cals a day and cut back the exercise by half. Two hours a day is a lot for lifetime.
    This is, say it with me, don't be scared - - - A WEIGHT LOSS DIET, when I'm down to close to goal I'll start the KEEP IT OFF DIET - LIFETIME DIET. notice both are DIETS!!! - 1/23/2009   11:09:26 AM
  • 48
    I got 2 out of 5 by you but I feel I got 3 out of 5. The quiz did make me realize I need to pay closer attention, lol. Obesity is a symptom not a cause and I need to pay closer attention to what and how people say things. I do disagree on number two though.
    People with a BMI in the “normal” range have a lower risk of mortality than those in higher (or lower) BMI ranges.

    FALSE. The weight at which the lowest mortality rates occur is either very close to or within the “overweight” category, depending on your age, gender and race. For example, for Caucasians under 55, the lowest death rate is at a BMI of 24.5, and for African Americans it is at 27. For women over 55, these numbers are 26.5 and 29.8 for these two racial groups. (Overweight = BMI of 25 to 29.9).

    I disagree with this one. I think they rate overweight and normal very strange to begin with considering height and bone structure varies too much. Your answer was pretty typical but not precise. How can it be fact if people don't really agree on it and it varies too much from person to person. The fact is it is CLOSER to a healthy weight and NOT the higher or obese range. - 1/23/2009   11:04:05 AM
  • 47
    To clarify:
    Statement one is False. It states: Obesity CAUSES health risks, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

    It is in the wording... It can CAUSE health risks in SOME people but no proof it CAUSES health risks in everyone. Simply that it was been linked to an INCREASE in health risks for certain diseases.

    So statement one is definitely false. It's all in the wording as Coach Dean says! :-)
    - 1/23/2009   10:55:57 AM
  • 46
    I got two out of five. Good thing we didn't get marked on this quiz! I wouldn't have done well. smile. tricky Questions. I enjoyed the quiz though. Really makes you think. - 1/23/2009   10:41:41 AM
  • 45
    You are still twisting the words, even in your answers. Statement 1states that obesity causes health RISKS, no that it causes diseases. The proponderance of studies do indicate a higher correlation with certain diseases in those who are obese, ergo, by definition increasing the risks. I does not state that obesity causes the disease, just that it increases the risk of the disease, all other factors being equal. So statement number 1 is, in fact, true. - 1/23/2009   10:28:19 AM
  • 44
    Haha! That should teach me to trust my gut feeling more... - 1/23/2009   10:04:48 AM
  • 43
    I'm not sure if I even took the quiz. The facts are thought provoking. I'm glad that I got to read this part. Congrats to the winners! - 1/23/2009   9:57:14 AM
  • 42
    I do have an issue with your interpretation of statement #4. I interpreted the word "dieting" to indicate the kind of attention to what one puts in one's mouth that is advocated here on SparkPeople, not sticking to a fad diet. I think that the word "diet" has come to mean "fad diet" rather than it's original meaning - the entire contents of what a person eats and drinks.

    Also, Statement #3 doesn't refer to "weight cycling". The statement specifically says that losing weight will improve one's health. It doesn't say anything about losing and regaining weight.

    This was a good exercise in the kind of confusion present in the media, but to be honest, I don't think SP did that much better of a job of clearing things up! - 1/23/2009   9:55:33 AM
  • LCOFFEL
    41
    congrats to the winners. - 1/23/2009   9:46:44 AM
  • LCOFFEL
    40
    Iwas a little surprised by a couple of the answers, did,nt get a perfect score . but learned from the ones I got wrong.. congrats to the winners. lcoffel - 1/23/2009   9:43:25 AM
  • DOLLYB1
    39
    Congratulations to the winners! It was quite an eye opener for me . . I only got the last question right! Wow! - 1/23/2009   9:36:53 AM
  • 38
    Wow! I only got 2 answers right. My favorite quote from Coach Dean:

    "The good news is that you don’t have to look like a cover model to be healthy and fit. Just as being overweight doesn’t cause illness, being a normal weight doesn’t cause good health. The things that contribute to both good health and weight loss are your own behaviors—healthy eating and plenty of physical activity—not finding just the right diet plan, or reaching some particular number on the scale."

    I think I'll post that on my fridge!
    - 1/23/2009   9:33:56 AM
  • JMSURPRENANT
    37
    Great article and heh-heh, I sure was stumped --- thanks for making us think!
    James
    - 1/23/2009   9:09:23 AM
  • 36
    This struck me as a very poorly thought-out and destructive article. I see a lot of authors try to gain readers using shock tactics like this. Even though there is the occasional back-pedal in support of healthy eating and exercise, the shock-value drives home a message of despair. Folks are coming here for support. Not semantic dissertations.

    Forgetting all the sophistry and shock, note the one point: obesity is associated with serious health problems and morbidity. I'll let others argue the fine point while I improve my chances.

    Sorry - but I wished I hadn't read this. - 1/23/2009   9:06:26 AM
  • 35
    Im very surprised at the back up provided for the answers, I am agreeing with Randy that there is some misleading information. For instance #3, to say that losing weight doesnt decrease health risks and premature death?????? then why soes SP exist? I take what I need from this site and leave the rest. - 1/23/2009   8:44:34 AM

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