Data from: Meta-analysis of variance: an illustration comparing the effects of two dietary interventions on variability in weight
Senior, Alistair M. et al. (2017), Data from: Meta-analysis of variance: an illustration comparing the effects of two dietary interventions on variability in weight, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.337dr
Meta-analysis, which drives evidence-based practice, typically focuses on the average response of subjects to a treatment. For instance in nutritional research the difference in average weight of participants on different diets is typically used to draw conclusions about the relative efficacy of interventions. As a result of their focus on the mean, meta-analyses largely overlook the effects of treatments on inter-subject variability. Recent tools from the study of biological evolution, where inter-individual variability is one of the key ingredients for evolution by natural selection, now allow us to study inter-subject variability using established meta-analytic models. Here we use meta-analysis to study how low carbohydrate (LC) ad libitum diets and calorie restricted diets affect variance in mass. We find that LC ad libitum diets may have a more variable outcome than diets that prescribe a reduced calorie intake. Our results suggest that whilst LC diets are effective in a large proportion of the population, for a subset of individuals, calorie restricted diets may be more effective. There is evidence that LC ad libitum diets rely on appetite suppression to drive weight loss. Extending this hypothesis, we suggest that between-individual variability in protein appetite may drive the trends that we report. A priori identification of an individual’s target intake for protein may help define the most effective dietary intervention to prescribe for weight loss.