Your Story Matters

Some Hopeful Data

A flower growing from a crack in dry pavement.

IWCR INSIDERS: SEPTEMBER 2021 EDITION

We love data, and have been tracking COVID-related wellness information as it arrives. Much of it is disturbing, but we can see good news hidden in the data too. Let’s explore two studies together.

The American Psychological Association’s latest Stress in America™ poll, published in March 2021, looking at the roughly one-year period since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

The poll results are based on a survey taken in February this year, and show results you might expect, with many adults reporting undesired changes to their weight (60%), changes in sleep (67%), increased drinking (23%) and other negative behaviors that may be related to attempts to cope with increased long-term stress.


We noted a longitudinal study suggesting leading indicators of people's ability to adapt…

The numbers also look worse for parents with children under 18, as they dealt with both the outside world and extra parenting duties at home. Parents on average were 2 to 3 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a mental health issue or to have seen a mental health professional for help during this period. Essential workers fared similarly. And people of color reported experiencing generally larger effects where negative effects were experienced.

So where is the hopeful news we mentioned?

Resilience

In the ScienceDirect journal Appetite, we noted a longitudinal study suggesting leading indicators of people's ability to adapt to a new way of living, despite ongoing challenges.

This study explored effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on many factors, including quality of life:
It found that during the first 8 months of the lockdown (between March 30, 2020 and November 21, 2020), among participants aged 18-74, self-reported levels for depression and cognitive function that had initially dropped below population means, had improved. This was despite ongoing stressors such as increased food insecurity, reduced exercise opportunities, ongoing anxiety and isolation.


Self-reported levels among participants for depression and cognitive function had improved.

This could suggest that although other quality of life measures remained significantly worse than before the pandemic, study participants were finding ways to cope.

To quote the authors, although people in the U.S. are certainly still struggling “These findings also demonstrate the resiliency of Americans to adapt to unprecedented circumstances.”

Both of these studies were gathered online, so they do come with inherent limitations of online polling, which the researchers carefully noted. The November 2020 survey results also correspond with a lifting of some initial lockdown measures, and predate the spread of the Delta variant that has imposed some additional hardships. Nonetheless, we find it encouraging to see signs that we can adapt, and that hope will find a way.

How about you?

What are you doing to support your own resilience and healthy mindset? What ways have you found to cope with ongoing challenges? Please join us in your IWCR Insiders Facebook Group to discuss this and many other topics related to weight and health.

References:

APA Stress In America™ poll: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2021/03/one-year-pandemic-stress

Appetite: Persistent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on diet, exercise, risk for food insecurity, and quality of life: A longitudinal study among U.S. adults: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666321005468#bib30

Mechanical Turk study reliability: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11606-017-4246-0


Your Story Matters

Do you have more to share? We want to invite you to engage more deeply with your fellow Citizen Scientists. In future issues, we will be profiling interesting people from the sciences and hopefully, from this study! We want to feature your stories, profile your opinions, experiences, and ideas. Whether you have a great success to celebrate, or struggles we can all learn from, we want to know you better.

Your story could be part of our next blog or newsletter! Do you have thoughts about what it was like to participate in the IWCR Questionnaires? Has something inspired you lately? What else do you want us to know?

Feel free to comment on this post, or write to study@internationalweightcontrolregistry.org. Your Citizen Science experiences may be featured right here — and ONLY with your permission.

Join our IWCR Insiders Facebook group to stay part of the conversation, meet your fellow Citizen Scientists of the IWCR, post and see amazing pictures of your favorite foods, participate in interesting polls, and help grow this vital global community. If you've completed the Registry, you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/iwcrinsiders/

We look forward to staying in touch with you on this important lifelong journey.


Feel more empowered with some simple steps.

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IWCR INSIDERS: JULY/AUGUST 2021 EDITION

Whether you are interested in maintaining your health, avoiding future problems, or expanding your knowledge, there are many resources on the web and social media offering to help. But which can you truly rely on? How can you tell a fact from a fabrication? And what constitutes a scientific ‘fact’ anyway?

The saying goes “what we don’t know can’t hurt us,” but that is not true for the millions of Americans that suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, especially if they are in the early or undetected stages. Obesity is different because it is visible, but it is no less challenging to understand the causes and remedies.  Millions of people struggle even while they are awash in information, because much of it is confusing or misleading. It can be difficult to know what to believe.  Here are some tips to help you navigate the information landscape and find the answers most relevant to you.   

5 Searching Tips for Finding the Best Information

illustration of a person asking questions

1. Ask questions. We trust healthcare professionals to give us advice and help with health decisions, but we can also learn from them. Understanding the medical basis of our healthcare professionals’ recommendations brings us into the process and provides an opportunity to understand, explore and learn.

diagram showing fact check symbol

2. Seek out trusted sources. It’s important to understand where information comes from. Science is developed using a method known as a peer-review — where unaffiliated senior professionals look closely at the data and methods before it a study is published. This not only aims to verify how factual and significant the information is, but also holds it to a higher standard of reproducibility. The next time you open a search window, instead of Googling only the topic terms, try adding “PubMed,” for example “how to lose weight Pubmed” — this way you are more likely to find scientifically credible sources that have been peer reviewed before publication.

a world of diversity

3. Check the sample and method. When you find something interesting, does the study or research apply to people like you? We all have different needs, and as it turns out those needs can vary a lot by age, gender, race, and many other factors. Many studies are also done with lab animals, petri dishes or test tubes! And not all such results translate directly to humans. So look to see if the study was on people, animals or lab cultures. Does the language describe a prediction and include the phrase “more studies are needed”, or is it reporting hard data?

diagram of person checking sources

4. Check multiple sources. It is tempting to look for articles and other evidence that support what we already believe, but it is important to look around and see what other opinions look like, or if many trusted sources lean one way or another. Looking for 3 or more unrelated articles — articles with different authors, or that don’t cite one another — is a good way to start developing a sense of the subject from multiple points of view. Even if you can’t find — or don’t want to read the full text of — a scientific paper, the abstract and conclusion are often available for free. Also, check the year. Check the date on your source, because science evolves. Look to see if other things have been published more recently. Sometimes the updates can corroborate, but sometimes the changes in the scientific evidence can take a sharp left turn.  It can be exciting to keep up to date on these developments too!

illustration of a share button

5. Get involved, stay involved, and share. Participating in research, from taking surveys such as the IWCR, to enrolling in full clinical trials, gives an inside view into the scientific process and will give insight into future developments. Getting involved opens a window into the future, giving a better sense of the direction science is headed.

Share what you’ve learned with others. Sharing what we learn from good research is not only a great way to help the information sink in, but it also helps create stronger communities. Studies show that even a single family member with increased science literacy can improve the health outcomes for other family members — imagine the possibilities if everyone we know participates by becoming more informed!

Whether it is curiosity or necessity, seeking and engaging with the science and the process can not only help improve and maintain your health, it can help every life you touch. You can help create a better world where living a healthy lifestyle becomes a positive collaboration between you, your loved ones, and everyone working in health and science on your behalf.

Knowledge truly is power, and you can empower yourself!


Your Story Matters

Do you have more to share? We want to invite you to engage more deeply with your fellow Citizen Scientists. In future issues, we will be profiling interesting people from the sciences and hopefully, from this study! We want to feature your stories, profile your opinions, experiences, and ideas. Whether you have a great success to celebrate, or struggles we can all learn from, we want to know you better.

Your story could be part of our next blog or newsletter! Do you have thoughts about what it was like to participate in the IWCR Questionnaires? Has something inspired you lately? What else do you want us to know?

Feel free to comment on this post, or write to editor@iwcr.study. Your Citizen Science experiences may be featured right here — and ONLY with your permission.

Join our IWCR Insiders Facebook group to stay part of the conversation, meet your fellow Citizen Scientists of the IWCR, post and see amazing pictures of your favorite foods, participate in interesting polls, and help grow this vital global community. If you've completed the Registry, you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/iwcrinsiders/

We look forward to staying in touch with you on this important lifelong journey.


Science, by the people, for the people

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IWCR INSIDERS: JUNE 2021 EDITION

What do whales, bees, celestial bodies, biofuel, and you all have in common? Citizen Science! This cutting-edge method of research has arrived, and it is all about you. Your story matters, and by contributing your story you become part of the IWCR global community working to improve the lives of millions of people.

How Can I Help Improve the Lives of Millions?

Citizen Science is a truly modern approach to data collection, through community participation in research.  People just like you are pioneering the research that is helping us all understand our world better every day.  Citizen Science research includes people like you studying everything from the smallest bees to the biggest whales, the stars in the sky, and new sources of eco-friendly energy.  However, never before has there been a Citizen Science initiative that brings together a worldwide network of people like us—those starting, struggling, or succeeding with weight loss. 

The World Is Big But We Can Still Work Together

We are all walking around with a lifetime of wisdom inside us, and now instead of millions of untold stories—millions of data points—scattered throughout the world, we can collect your insights from across the world and centralize them, analyze them, find the patterns, test ideas, identify common obstacles, and discover many more ideas we haven’t even considered yet.  It was never possible before, but thanks to your involvement we are on our way there—together!

whale watchers
Citizen Scientists participating in research on Whales. Photo Credit: https://www.pacificwhale.org/research/community-science/great-whale-count/

Weight Loss Is Personal: Your Weight Loss Story Is Important Data for Science

You are making a difference, not just for yourself, but for the rest of the world. Much is yet to be discovered.  You and your fellow citizen scientists have stories to tell. You are the best resource for information on what works, what doesn’t, and how to make change stick. What makes weight loss so different from other challenges? Well, you probably already have an idea: everyone is different; we have different histories, like different foods, and have different medical needs, resources, and time constraints. On top of that, you may have kids to feed, parents to care for, careers to pursue and so on. We are unique individuals, but it is rare that our individual perspectives get included in the highly personal process of weight loss—together we will change that.

Your Story Matters

Do you have more to share? We want to invite you to engage more deeply with your fellow Citizen Scientists. In future issues, we will be profiling interesting people from the sciences and hopefully, from this study! We want to feature your stories, profile your opinions, experiences, and ideas. Whether you have a great success to celebrate, or struggles we can all learn from, we want to know you better.

Your story could be part of our next blog or newsletter! Do you have thoughts about what it was like to participate in the IWCR Questionnaires? Has something inspired you lately? What else do you want us to know?

Feel free to comment on this post, or write to editor@iwcr.study. Your Citizen Science experiences may be featured right here — and ONLY with your permission.

Join our IWCR Insiders Facebook group to stay part of the conversation, meet your fellow Citizen Scientists of the IWCR, post and see amazing pictures of your favorite foods, participate in interesting polls, and help grow this vital global community. If you've completed the Registry, you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/iwcrinsiders/

We look forward to staying in touch with you on this important lifelong journey.


Citizen Scientists in Action:

These are some of the many worthwhile citizen science projects we’ve noticed. Have you been involved in any? What are your favorites? Share your finds in the Facebook group.

Tracking whales and dolphins, and helping with ocean litter
https://www.pacificwhale.org/research/community-science/

Empowering beekeepers to help keep bee colonies healthy
https://www.epa.gov/citizen-science/hivescience

Helping amateur astronomers report comets and asteroids, and even look for signs of extraterrestrial life!
https://astrobites.org/guides/citizen-science-efforts/

An app to help track air quality and plastic pollution
https://www.biofuelsdigest.com/bdigest/2020/04/19/worlds-largest-citizen-science-initiative-launched-for-earth-day-2020/

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