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Dangerous and irresponsible: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop faces fresh criticism for “leanest livable weight” advice

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Anna Brech
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Gwyneth Paltrow

A Cambridge University scientist has renewed criticism of the “leanest livable weight” advice that appears on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website, describing it as dangerous and misleading.

A leading scientist has denounced dieting advice that appears on Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website Goop.

Speaking at the New Scientist Live event in London yesterday, Dr Giles Yeo said that a piece on the site telling readers how to achieve their “leanest livable weight”  is misleading. 

“It’s a silly idea because there is no clear way to determine what your leanest liveable weight is,” University of Cambridge geneticist Dr Yeo told the audience, in comments reported by the Daily Mail.

The Goop piece features an interview with US psychologist Dr Traci Mann, and prompted a fierce backlash when it was first published in February last year. 

In it, Dr Mann describes her “leanest livable weight” goal “as meaning the weight at the low end of your ‘set range.’

“Your set range is a genetically determined range of weight that your body generally keeps you in, despite your efforts to escape it,” she says. “If your weight is below that range, biological changes due to calorie deprivation happen, and generally push you back into your set range. However, if you stay within your set range – at the lower end of it – you should be able to maintain that weight without your body making those negative changes.”

Speaking this weekend, Dr Yeo branded the advice “dangerous” and said it encouraged eating disorders.

“This is a dangerous suggestion, as many people will take it to mean they should be as thin as possible,” he said. “It is irresponsible because the idea is so open to misinterpretation, especially for young girls susceptible to eating disorders. The problem with many of Goop’s recommendations is that they are not based on science, but pseudoscience.

“[…] Goop is part of the reason that people have become afraid of eating. We need to love our food, just eat less of it,” he added. 

Responding last night, Dr Mann told the Mail that she was strongly opposed to the concept of strict dieting: “The phrase ‘leanest livable weight’ refers to the leanest weight you can be without doing any strict dieting or unhealthy behaviour,” she said.

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Goop faced a similar controversy in 2017, when an interview with Paltrow’s personal trainer Tracy Anderson recommended going “very low carb” to jumpstart weight loss.

The furore prompted a rep for the site to issue a statement saying it advocated “healthy eating” rather than weight loss.

In recent years, dialogue around wellness has focused increasingly on qualities such as strength and mental health. At the same time, advice around diets has come under growing scrutiny for being outdated and promoting poor self-esteem.

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.

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