While the physiology of obesity has been so extensively investigated to date, only an extremely small number of studies (less than 50) have focused on the other extremity of the weight spectrum: constitutional thinness. Yet, this important state of underweight in the absence of any eating disorders provides a mirror model of obesity that might be particularly insightful in understanding obesity. Nevertheless, important methodological and recruitment-related issues appear when it comes to this complex constitutionally thin phenotype, as experienced by our research group with the realization of the ongoing NUTRILEAN clinical trial. To face this challenge, the present paper aims at identifying, analyzing, and discussing the quality of such recruitment processes in publications about constitutional thinness.
In this order, a group of experts collectively created a new grading system to assess the level of rigour and quality achieved by each study based on different criteria.
The main results were that (i) metabolic-related biasing criteria were poorly observed despite being crucial, (ii) recruitment processes were not detailed enough and with sufficient explicitness, and (iii) recruiting among already identified patients would be associated with both higher sample sizes and better scores of quality.
The present work encourages investigators to adopt a high level of rigour despite the complexity and duration of recruitment processes for this specific population, and readers to pay close attention to the quality of recruitment when interpreting the data. To better understand obesity and its physiological adaptations, it seems essential not only to compare it to normal-weight conditions, but also to the other extremity of the weight status spectrum represented by constitutional thinness.
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Data generated or analyzed during this study are available from the corresponding author upon request.
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Boscaro, A., Verney, J., Tremblay, A. et al. Challenges of considering both extremities of the weight status spectrum to better understand obesity: insights from the NUTRILEAN project in constitutionally thin individuals. Int J Obes 47, 1171–1177 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-023-01360-y