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Home Science Bad Science 'No weight gain' from the pill? Or just more poor research?

'No weight gain' from the pill? Or just more poor research?

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“The popular belief that taking the Pill makes you pile on the pounds has been exposed as a myth by an expert in women’s health,” reported the Daily Express.

The news story is based on a study that followed over 1,400 women of fertile age for 15 or 25 years to find out if the combined contraceptive pill had any influence on body weight. Researchers found no association between changes in weight and pill use, and that getting older was the only factor associated with weight gain.

This study has some strengths but also several limitations. One major problem is that the researchers did not measure the women’s weight but relied on the women themselves to give accurate measurements through a postal questionnaire every five years. As such, the results may be subject to error or bias. Also, though the study looked at other factors that may influence weight, such as exercise and having children, it did not look at the women’s diets, a major influence. These limitations, and the fact that 50% of the women dropped out of the study, mean the findings should be viewed with caution.

The 50 percent dropout rate is very problematic.  Did women not want to participate because they didn't want to report their weight gain?

In reality this study did not confirm or expose any myths at all.  With so much uncertainty, this study tells us nothing.

Links To The Headlines

The pill will not make you put on weightDaily Express, June 9 2011


Links To Science

Lindh I, Andersson Ellström A, Milsom I. The long-term influence of combined oral contraceptives on body weight. Human Reproduction April 19 2011, (first published online)

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Last Updated on Saturday, 23 July 2011 17:49  

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