In 2018, the entire world pushed back against the notorious “Fast Track to Health” trial, a $1.2 million tax payer funded experiment in which Australian teenagers were to be subjected to a year of semi starvation. This is despite 70 plus years of weight science research demonstrating that weight loss doesn’t work in the long term. We also know that teen dieting, ESPECIALLY severe restriction, is a massive risk factor for disordered eating and eating disorders. Despite valiant attempts by the eating disorders community, and a viral petition pleading for the Fast Track to stop, this brutal research was allowed to continue. 6 years later, the world’s slowest Fast Track has reached its bitter end. The Fast Track research team have sharted out a triumphant press release, and are planning a glitzy trip to Venice, Italy, to present their ASTOUNDING results at a pharmaceutical indiutry-sponsored ‘conference’. Don’t miss this episode of All Fired Up, where I unpack this utter sh*tshow. TW: This episode is packed full of weight loss dieting, ‘O’ words, and EPIC weight loss industry bullsh*t – so please approach with caution !

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Show Transcript

Welcome to all fired up. I’m Louise your host and this is the podcast where we talk all things anti diet. Has diet culture got you in a fit of rage? Is the injustice of the beauty ideal getting your knickers in a twist? Does Fitspo make you want to spit spo? Are you ready to hurl if you hear one more weight loss tip? Are you ready to be mad, loud and proud? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get all fired up. Hello, diet culture dropouts, I’ve missed you. I’m so sorry to have dropped off basically all the anti diet radars. Over the last few months, our family has been hit with a few health challenges. And as you may or may not know, I’m a single mum, and one of my kids has really been going through the wringer health wise. So I basically have had to drop everything in order to focus on getting us through. And to be honest, we’re not quite there yet. So I’m not going to guarantee anything regular in terms of my output. But I am so fired up with the antics of the fast track trial researchers that I just need to do this podcast and get it off my chest. I’m so glad to be here. It feels really good to put out the podcast. Now the other day, I was checking out our podcast reviews. And I saw one which said that all fired up is basically the Aussie version of the maintenance phase. What a compliment. Thank you so much. I absolutely appreciate all of the love. So if you love us here on all fired up, please help me elevate the anti diet rage. Go to Spotify or Apple podcasts or wherever you listen and leave us a really fiery five star rating and a review. You guys rock. And of course, if you haven’t subscribed to all fired up, please do so you don’t miss any of my explicit rants as they drop. And if you have any ideas for the podcast, or things that you really aren’t quite shut off with in diet culture, please let me know that you can email me at Louise at I’m Now free stuff. There is of course my free ebook, which is called everything you’ve been told about weight loss is bullshit by me and the wonderful anti diet dietitian Dr. Fi Willer. We are busting the top 10 myths that are floating around diet culture, about the relationship between weight and health. It’s now completely updated. And we’re including myth busting about the weight loss drugs, which is really something I’ve wanted to add into the book for ages. So please, if you haven’t already, go download it, read it and share it with everyone in your life. Friends, family members, medical and health professionals. All you have to do is head to the website and it should pop up. Or if you go to Insta, which is untrapped underscore au and click on the link in the bio Knowledge is power friends. The all fired up podcast is brought to you by the wonderful and trapped Academy, which is a really cool collection of anti diet presentations. Featuring a really incredible lineup. I’m talking Diane Bondi, Christy Harrison, Sabrina string Regan chest Dane, the owner Sutherland Sophie Hagen, Chrissy King, aka dolphin, Lacey J Christie Ashkelon, of course, Fiona Willa and Megan crab. There’s talks, there’s skills training sessions, is all kinds of topics like regular eating, how to work on your body story, binge eating, and also how to make sure that you get really good waist inclusive health care. We normally release new topics for the Academy every month. But given everything that’s been going on, I’ve had to put the academy on pause for now in terms of new material, but it’s still a complete oasis. There’s 30 Incredible anti diet presentations and workshops just sitting there. And you can join it and watch it all at your own pace, but just a flat rate of one off payment of 15 or 30 bucks. So it’s a bargain. I just want to keep it going while we’re on board so you can go to and check us out. Just before we get started just a bit of a trigger warning particularly for this episode, I’m going to be talking in detail How about eating disorder risk?

I’m going to be mentioning numbers and calories and very extreme dieting practices in detail. There’s a few O word mentions as well. And as you all know, I do not believe in the whole obesity industry, but use these words in a critical manner. So please everyone, look after yourself and figure out if this episode is gonna be okay and safe for you. Thanks. All right. Now let’s get on with the show. I have a massive bullshit alert. Do you remember the Fast Track Trial nightmare, it’s rearing its ugly head again. So we need to brace ourselves for some next level bullshit. Now, just a quick reminder for everyone who perhaps like me, can’t remember much of anything free COVID. Way back in 2018, I wrote a blog which was called let’s not spend $1.2 million to starve teenagers. And that was all about a really horrible one year long weight loss experiment which is happening here in Australia. It’s called the fast track to health trial. And it’s headed up by Westmead Hospital pediatrician and president of the Novo Nordisk funded world obesity Federation, Dr. Louise Baur. The plan was to recruit 186 kids between the ages of 13 and 17, taken from really low socio economic areas from around Sydney and Melbourne. And then to put these kids on crash diets, for the first month that kids would basically stop eating. Instead, they will be given four Optifast shakes every day, it’s roughly only 800 calories a day. And a tiny amount of low carb veggies are allowed. But also the kids could swap it and lash out, swap out one of the shakes and have a sliver of low fat meat and veggies instead. That’s basically it for a month. So much health, am I right? So after this four week starvation phase, the kids get split into two groups, one of them would do a standard diet, so restricting their intake to about 1600 calories a day. And the other group would be exposed to alternate day fasting. So 3 days of every week, they’d only be allowed to have 600 to 700 calories a day. And that’s for a year. The mind boggles and wow, is it just me, but does the whole intermittent fasting fed now seem very like pre COVID? And, by the way, totally unsafe. There’s a new study that’s just come out this week, which blows people up. And it’s claiming that fasting has increased heart attack risk by 91%? That’s not a good look. I don’t think the intermittent fasting thing is aging very well whatsoever. But back to 2018. So the level of restriction, and the length of time these vulnerable teens were going to get exposed to crash dieting. It just shocked me. And it also shocked the whole eating disorder community. The plan was horrifying. And it flew in the face of literally everything that we know. We know that crash diets, like all diets, just almost never work in the long term, because people gain the weight back. And then some because dieting like this puts our bodies in a state of homeostatic emergency. This is Level A evidence from science. We also know that dieting as a teen is a huge risk factor in the development of disordered eating and eating disorders. So I was disgusted. And I sent in a complaint to the ethics board that approved the trial. And that complaint was co signed by piles of health professionals and organizations. And we were calling for an immediate stop to such a dangerous experiment. But the ethics board refused. So I created a petition, which ended up going viral and we got more than 20,000 signatures. It seemed like the whole world was outraged that in this day and age, such cruel and extreme experiments were still being allowed to happen. I honestly don’t think there’s ever been such a concerted effort to stop a weight loss experiment. And to this day, I’m so grateful to everyone around the world, the survivors of childhood dieting, the researchers, the health professionals, the eating disorder and health organizations who put their stories out there who put their ethics out there who made public statements against the trial who spoke up. They did their damnedest we all did our damnedest to stand up against this enormous behemoth of the weight loss industry. There’s a wonderful website that came out, which we co created when it became clear that the trial was going to happen in spite of all the pushback. We still had concerns that the teams and their families weren’t being really fully informed about the potential risks and about how much opposition there’d been. So I basically bought that domain name. In an effort to reach the parents and kids who might have been looking at the official Fast Track website, which was fast track at the time, I’ve noticed it’s no longer up. After the website went up, I was pursued by the Sydney Children’s hospital networks formidable team of lawyers, demanding that I take the website down and give up the domain name. After a long, stressful and very expensive process, I eventually won the rights to keep the domain name and our ability to keep airing this massive protest has been upheld. Yay free speech. In the face of scrutiny from the media, and from eating disorder organizations, the Fast Track researchers kept doubling down, insisting that they needed to do more research to explore the exact harms of childhood dieting. Apparently, decades of eating disorder research wasn’t enough. They still needed to learn more. They even turned lemons into lemonade, adding in a whole pile of eating disorder and other psychological questionnaires so that they could get some nice data out of all of this harm, because science right. So then there is a meta analysis published from the Fast Track researchers which claimed that dieting and weight loss in teenagers definitely didn’t cause eating disorders, if the diet was supervised by health professionals like dietitians. This was particularly galling, especially when you looked at the quality of what they were actually doing. So I wrote a letter to the editor pointing out that the really optimistic conclusions didn’t match the data it was being based on, I raised concerns about their claims of safety. I thought it was irresponsible considering that long term data was absent in more than 90% of studies. I also said that there was a real risk that agenda raising research articles like these would get misused by the weight loss industry to expose even more children and teens to dangerous diets. And then lo and behold, the weight watchers Kurbo app did just that. And then not long after the same meta analysis appeared to justify the American Pediatric Association’s new pro weight loss industry guidelines. So this fast track team are driving a global agenda, which is hell bent on rewriting everything we know about dieting and the risk of eating disorders in teens. It’s horrifying, because they’re so powerful, connected, well financed, and just churning out bullshit research all over the place. It’s a real sausage factory of self serving propaganda. It’s been hugely upsetting to see our powerful global outcry and push back against the kiddie weight loss industry get co opted into a coordinated attempt on their part to distort and monopolize eating disorders research. Just the audacity of the obesity industry to even consider that they can comment, let alone conduct research on the harms they’re doing. It’s breathtaking. It’s literally like Jim Beam conducting research which surprise concludes that alcohol really isn’t a problem if it’s Jim Beam for f’s sake. Meanwhile, decades of eating disorder research gets erased, and the lived experience of countless people is steamrolled into silence. Obesity researchers should not be involved in determining whether weight loss causes eating disorders, period. I’m so bloody angry. So the Fast Track trial went ahead. And they started recruiting their teens in February 2018. And in order for the study to get enough statistical power to be able to be interpreted, they needed 186 children. But of course, there was this global giant push back stacks of bad press and then on top of it COVID Hit. So they’ve failed to hit the target of 186 kids, and they’ve only managed to recruit 143 So this means that the whole study is what we call in statistics underpowered, so there’s really not enough people in it to detect a true difference between the two groups of kids. Underpowered research has been called scientifically useless. And I think that’s a nice lens through which to view the entire Fast Track research agenda. So we’re now six long years down the line from the beginning of the fast track, which is turning out to be not quite as fast as they wanted it to be. Because it’s only now groaning to a halt with the final semi starved teen, scheduled to limp across the finish line at the end of March 2024. But remarkably, in mid March, emerges a press release from the European Association for the Study of obesity or EASO, with this heading. Very low calorie diets are safe and acceptable for teenagers with moderate to severe obesity, When used short term and supported by a dietitian, Australian study finds. And lo and behold, it’s our very own fast track team. The press release announces that they’re going to be presenting this research at the European Congress on obesity to be held in Venice in May 2024. Of course, the Congress main sponsors are Novo Nordisk Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim. Oh, and EASO itself is also sponsored by Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly. How lovely that the fast track team who have squandered taxpayers money on a starvation experiment the likes of which should have stayed in the 1980s, now get to travel to exotic European cities to talk up their findings. I wonder who is funding that junket. So turning to this groundbreaking press release worthy piece of research? It’s a sub analysis of wait for it the first four weeks of the fast track fiasco. That’s right. It’s only looking at the 28 days when the kids were first on their Optifast starve a THON. It’s truly embarrassing that squeezing four weeks of data from a 12 month study is being touted as news. It says a lot about the standards of the obesity industry. I’ve blogged before about how the fast trackers have a really nasty habit of overstating their results. But boy o boy, this one takes the metaphorical cake, claiming that very low calorie diets safe to teens based on a four week period. There should be a criminal offense against science. Child Obesity Research has been called out time and time again for doing the short term studies and just ignoring long term harm. And the Fast Track protests really brought this issue into the spotlight and they were called out for it. So after being caught out on this issue of all the studies being too short and therefore useless. This mov to publicly present safety claims based on four weeks of data feels like they’re now just taking the piss. I’m truly insulted to even have to bother dissecting the press release any further. But my God, we’re in the rabbit hole now,  let’s buckle up and call out more bullshit. So the press release says The study included 141 teen 70 were female, aged between 13 and 17. Average age was 14.9. All of the teens did the Optifast malarkey. They saw a dietitian every week. Seven of the kids dropped out and my god I don’t blame them run for the hills kids. 95% of them experienced at least one side effect, most of them having at least three side effects. These included hunger, tiredness, headaches, irritability, loose stools, constipation, nausea, and lack of concentration. I get really sad when I read this. Because my kids’ been sick. And when kids are sick, I just want them to get better. These kids are growing up. They need to be able to concentrate at school FFS. I hate hearing that these poor children have to put up with at least three of these side effects for a whole month and knowing that they’ve then got another 11 months of toxic starvation ahead of them is just horrendous. The researchers gleefully pointed out that experiencing more side effects at day three to four was associated with greater weight loss at the end of four weeks, which they interpreted as possibly indicating ‘increased adherence to the very low energy diet’, unquote. To which I say what the hell, it is really unsurprising that the kids who felt sickest lost more weight four weeks later. But this adherence comment, it’s a clue as to who’s gonna get blamed if they didn’t lose weight. So here’s a reality tip being put on a crash diet will not lead to equal weight loss in a group of kids, because each kid has their own genetic response to starvation. And kids who lose less weight are not noncompliant. They’re just kids with weight loss resistant bodies. So the average weight loss was five and a half kilos. Wow. This is not surprising because they’re being starved. And we all know what’s likely to happen over time. The research is focused on really short term weight loss. It says to me that this team are plucking at straws to milk their pointless $1.2 million waste fest. They apparently asked the kids to rate how easy it was to follow the restriction, with the average rating being 61 out of 100 for being easy to follow. Where easy was 100 and difficult to zero and 53 out of 100 for enjoyable to follow. where enjoyable was 100. And 0 not enjoyable. This is a nothing result. Like the kids don’t hate it. They certainly didn’t enjoy it. Either way, to the researchers who have the idea to give starving kids a questionnaire asking if they’re finding starving enjoyable. Please have a serious look at yourself – get some help. Losing weight and being told what to eat was apparently the most liked aspect of being starved for a month. And the kids did not like how restrictive it was and they didn’t really like the taste of the meal replacements. Another nothing result in this padded out nothing burger of a press release. The fast trackers are claiming that this means that enduring a crash diet is acceptable to teenagers. This is not a eureka moment in science. Ask any fat teenager what they’d be willing to put up with in order to lose weight and you’ll see a laundry list because they believe that everything will be better if they’re not fat. That’s what they’re being told. We even have research from adults showing that proportion of people would much rather lose a limb become blind or lose 10 years of life rather than being fat. And this is because diet culture sucks. The teenagers willingness to endure restriction because they’re pursuing a thinner body is heartbreaking. Because we know that the majority of the kids here are going to regain the weight lost, many will overshoot, and the restriction is going to muck up their metabolism and interrupt their body’s homeostasis. None of this is their fault. We’ve known this for decades, that weight loss diets result in rebound. And the researchers know this too. It’s a crime that this study ever went ahead. Weight loss research, especially on kids should have stopped long ago. Instead of acknowledging these issues, galloping to dizzying heights of unjustified optimism. The fast track teams press release concludes that, quote, ‘a health professional monitored very low energy diet can be implemented safely in the short term, and despite side effects is acceptable for many adolescents’. Now, because this is a press release and not an actual research publication, it’s really impossible to know why they’re so bloody confident. But given the facts presented in the press release, we are stretching way beyond the data here. I want to make two points, actually three, and number one, no actual safety data was presented in the press release. So this is something we’re just literally being asked to believe. Number two, the obesity industry has convinced itself that being fat is so bad that doing things that cause illness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, diarrhea that’s safer than just letting kids be the size they are inducing all of these side effects and then having the goal to call it safe because their timeframe is so short. It’s just not okay. Number three, we know that this team through their dodgy meta analysis have been splitting hairs desperately trying to separate dieting in the wild from dieting under supervision by a health professional. This is bullshit. Dieting is dangerous because of the metabolic and psychological impact of restriction. It doesn’t matter if the restriction is being supervised or not. Famously, the Minnesota semi starvation experiment was meticulously supervised by teams of medical and health professionals, as the man underwent a six month semi starvation period 1500 calories a day, and they all experienced extreme metabolic and psychological disturbances. So the fast track team are just wedging in self serving conclusions and ignoring a really vast literature on weight science. How utterly narcissistic This is. But wait, there’s more. Making Gao Fast Track dietitian is quoted to say, more research is required to determine who would be most suited to a very low energy diet. However, given the associated rapid weight loss, they use should be emphasized in clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of severe obesity and obesity related complications in adolescents, especially before pharmacological or surgical intervention. More research is needed. Now I think not. Let’s just please stop flogging this dead horse of short term extreme weight loss in vulnerable populations. And pattern they use should be emphasized in clinical practice guidelines before kids are sent off to get weight loss drugs and surgery. Come on. This self serving press release reveals the Fast Track researchers true and agenda, which is to keep the weight loss industry going. Their proposed sausage factory of clinical guidelines reeks of industry influence, ensuring that all parts of the weight loss industry from lifestyle diets the shakes to weight loss surgery and of course weight loss drugs are included. Everyone gets to keep profiting from the needless medicalization and pathologizing of larger bodied kids. And then this anti fat of the finding gets judged up as a press release which is then amplified to the world by an uncritical media. The press release appears in The Guardian almost word for word with the outlandish heading. Obese teens can crash diet safely is monitored by a dietitian study finds. And then the apt Lee named Mirage news leads with this very low calorie diets safe effective for obese teens. I have no doubt that more outrageous claims are gonna get made when the team present their paper in Venice, and that the audience will slip it down like a Jim Beam spiked milkshake, but I’m not buying it. Okay, rant is complete. I will be back with more steaming diet culture bullshit at a later date. I’m sorry, I can’t be more predictable with upcoming episodes. But please know that I am here and I do care. I am annoyed and I plan to be turning up the heat, particularly on these bloody Novo Nordisk weight loss drugs and the steady world domination plan that they seem to be rolling out. Stay strong diet culture drop out and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss new episodes. See you soon. In the meantime, trust your body, think critically and trap from the crap out

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Show Resources

The 2018 blog “Let’s not spend $1.2 million to starve teenagers

The press release

New research showing that fasting increases cardiovascular risk by 91%

The protest website

The Fast Track Team’s dodgy meta analysis

Louise’s Letter to the Editor about the meta analysis

Statistically underpowered experiments

People would rather lose a limb than be fat in diet culture

The Minnesota Semi Starvation Experiment

The uncritical media:


Mirage News