Expert faces backlash for saying you should be able to "fit into the same jeans" you wore as a 21-year-old

·4-min read
Photo credit: Prostock-Studio - Getty Images
Photo credit: Prostock-Studio - Getty Images

A study claiming there's a link between dress size and diabetes has been branded 'harmful' on social media.

Earlier this week, The Guardian reported on a paper which found "people risk developing type 2 diabetes if they can no longer fit into the jeans they were wearing when they were 21-years-old." Understandably, the study has been met with backlash on Twitter, with many pointing out how harmful the claim could be for those suffering with, and recovering from, an eating disorder.

The study, which was carried out by Professor Roy Taylor from Newcastle University, recently had its findings presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes’ annual conference.

Taylor revealed that early findings showed "people of normal weight with type 2 diabetes could 'achieve remission' by losing weight" and that "eight in 12 people managed to 'get rid' of their condition by losing 10 to 15% of their body weight."

Speaking about the study, Taylor said: "If you can’t get into the same size trousers now [as you could aged 21], you are carrying too much fat and therefore at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even if you aren’t overweight."

Photo credit: timnewman - Getty Images
Photo credit: timnewman - Getty Images

To test this theory, the study saw participants take part in a weight loss programme, consuming just 800-calories a day through soups and shakes (the recommended daily intake of calories for women is 2000, and 2500 for men). Participants completed three rounds of this weight loss programme until they had lost 10-15% of their body weight.

But, many who read the article, weren't happy with how the study encouraged such drastic weight loss, especially through a dangerously-low caloric intake. Not only that, but the study's blanket statement about no longer fitting into your 21-year-old self's jeans, proved triggering for some.

"I hope I can never fit into that size of jeans again… I was underweight and pretty unwell. Articles like this really aren’t helpful. Our bodies change over time and that’s completely normal," said one Twitter user, while another wrote "I was severely underweight at 21 due to anorexia, there's a very good reason why I can't fit into my previous jeans."

Someone else tweeted, "I am 22 and weigh over 20kg more than I did when I was 20. My jeans would struggle to fit over my ankles. But, you will be glad to know I have saved my kidneys and heart, and can now walk again. Your body shaming isn’t helpful."

"Fit back into those old jeans and decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes by participating in this 800 calorie soup n shake [sic] diet until you're 10-15% underweight!! (Warning, may develop type 1 diabetes due to weight fluctuation, malnutrition, stress on the liver and pancreas...)" a fourth person added.

Despite the backlash online, the study has been well received by some medical experts. Speaking to The Guardian, Dr Lucy Chambers, head of research communications at Diabetes UK (the leading charity for people living with diabetes in the UK), which also funded the study, said she "welcomed the findings but cautioned that they were early, with full results expected in 2022."

Beat is the UK's leading charity dedicated to helping people with eating disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling and want to seek help, call their helpline on 0808 801 0677 or visit their website for more details.


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