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Testing Seth Roberts’ appetite theory

Jonathan Tupper writes:

My organization is running a group test of Seth Roberts’ old theory about appetite.

We are running something like a “web trial” as discussed in your Chance article with Seth. And in fact our design was very inspired by your conversation… For one, we are using a control group which takes light olive oil *with* meals as you mentioned. We are also testing the mechanism of hunger rather than the outcome of weight loss. This is partly for pragmatic reasons about the variability of the measures, but it’s also an attempt to address the concern you raised that the mechanism is the 2 hour flavorless window itself. Not eating for two hours probably predicts weight loss but it wouldn’t seem to predict less hunger!

Here’s how to sign up for their experiment. I told Tupper that I found the documentation at that webpage to be confusing, so they also prepared this short document summarizing their plan.

I know nothing about these people but I like the idea of testing Seth’s diet, so I’m sharing this with you. (And I’m posting it now rather than setting it at the end of the queue so they can get their experimental data sooner rather than later.) Feel free to post your questions/criticisms/objections/thoughts in comments.


  1. Matt says:

    I am involved on this project with Jon. Even though we aren’t intending this for traditional publication, we would of course like it to be as informative as possible. And we will be running other tests like this so we would love to get any thoughts on the general enterprise, the test design, ideas for data analysis, and so on.

    Finally, if anyone would be interested in working with the data please do get in touch.

    Thanks for checking us out and thank you to Professor Gelman for posting this.

  2. Seth Green says:

    We randomly allocate participants into treatment and control groups (unless anyone specifically request to be only in the treatment or control.)”

    This is a cool idea, assuming they plan to present analyses of both everyone and the randomly assigned subset. I have not seen it before in experimental procedures, but then, I don’t read much in this area.

    • Seth Green says:

      Ah I see Seth advocated for that in the first place. neat.

    • Matt says:

      Thanks Seth. We actually didn’t discover the incredibly relevant Chance paper until a few weeks ago when we were nearly ready to launch the test. We knew Seth’s forum though (and Andrew’s Blog of course) so we had already taken plenty of inspiration. Needless to say we made some emergency last minute changes based on the points Andrew and Seth R. made.

      (And yes we will certainly include both groups in the analysis!)

  3. AB says:

    There have been reports that drinking oil is a rather unpleasant experience, almost to the point of causing nausea. For those who do find it to be very negative, it is likely that it would also lead to reduced appetite. (I tried the ELOO this morning, and it was disgusting). I’m concerned that this will be a confound. This could perhaps be combated by having a group take capsules instead of drinking?

    Also, in a 2013 study, researchers found that the aroma of olive oil had an appetite reducing effect ( I wonder if it would be worth introducing a third group of ELOO VS EVOO VS Control (no oil)?

    Would love to hear your thoughts on these points, thank you!

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