Saturday, March 25, 2017

Removing the Need for Self-Reported Data in Weight Loss Endeavors

Self-reported data in weight loss and weight maintenance efforts is problematic because self-reported data is often not accurate. This inaccuracy can lead to inferior research results and less than desirable patient diagnosis. This is especially true with respect to self-reported diet, height and weight data. So, methods are sought that can reduce the need to use self-reported data. And fortunately, there may be ways to do this.

One of the problems with self-reported data is in diet programs. With self-reported data, it is difficult to confirm that a person is adhering to a diet program, so that the program can be properly evaluated. The confirmation is difficult, because many times when people self-report their adherence to a diet, they underestimate their calorie intake.

Body mass index (BMI) is another problem area. BMI measurements are often inaccurate when self-reported weight and height information is used. Many individuals will overestimate their height while underestimating their weight. Since BMI is computed by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of the person's height in meters, the computed BMI is often less than the true BMI.

Now the BMI mis-estimate problem is solvable by accurately measuring a person's height and weight. A speaker at an obesity related conference indicated that most people want to be a few inches taller. Therefore, they add a few inches to their self-reported height. So, actually measuring the height of a person in the provider’s office is important. And of course, weight should be measured in the provider's office.

As we stated above, people often underestimate their calorie intake. But metabolomic analysis is a way, potentially, to determine a person’s true past diet content. Metabolomics is a “systematic study of the unique chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind.”

Therefore, metabolomic profiling might be a way to determine if an individual followed a specific diet. This more accurate determination could lead to a more accurate assessment of calorie intake. In one study, it was concluded that “metabolomic profiling may be used to assess compliance during clinical nutrition trials and the validity of dietary assessment….”

So more accurate BMI related measurements and the use of  metabolomics could eliminate some of the need to rely on self-reported data. Eliminating this need could improve patient treatment and research results.

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