Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Confused yet?

One major problem in the fitness/health/wellness industry is the lack of a clear, concise message. For example, how much exercise do you need? How often should you exercise? What form of exercise is best?

Pose these questions to 10 different trainers and you're likely to get 10 different answers.

And it's not just personal trainers. Different think tanks, non-profits and the like involved in the fitness, health and wellness industry have published their own recommendations. Some say accumulate 30 minutes per day, some say you should exercise for at least an hour each day and some recommend high intensity exercise. They are, quite literally, all over the place.

I could sit here and dissect each one, but that's not the point of this post, so I won't do that.

The point of this post is to shed light on how easily it can appear that an entire field of study has no clear, concise message.

Take for example these two headlines, which appeared back-to-back, no less under the heading of depression news in my daily medical research update.

  1. Small Increase In Birth Defects Found Among Infants Of Women Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy, Studies Say
  2. SSRI Antidepressants Do Not Pose Major Birth Defect Risk

Although not identified in the title, the anti-depressants in question in the first study were SSRI's (like Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft). Yep, the same as those in the second study. So one says there is risk and the other says there is no risk.

Confused yet?

I haven't examined the studies in-depth to determine if differences in methodology might explain varying results, although if I had to guess, they probably will. But, again that's not my point.

My point is the message. It's eminently confusing and reeks of hidden agendas or a severe misunderstanding of the effects these drugs could potentially have - which is a whole separate issue, and quite disturbing when you really think about it.

It's one thing for the fitness/health/wellness industry to lack a consistent message when it comes to physical activity. Enough people need to simply get up and move that the inconsistency will do little harm, if any at all.

It's a completely different story when even medical researchers have a hard time agreeing on the potentially adverse effects a particular drug may have on an unborn child.

And that's why I'm confused.

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