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The Obesity Epidemic — Is Medicine Scientific? 909

Posted by kdawson
from the paradigm-takeover dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An award-winning science author, Gary Taubes, has written a book that pans the medical community's treatment of the obesity epidemic. What is interesting is that it looks like the medical community is behaving in a very unscientific manner. Taubes points out that the current medical orthodoxy — that consuming fat makes you fat and exercise makes you thin — has no basis in research. In fact, all the available research points in quite another, and more traditional, direction. Here's the (excellent) podcast of an interview with Taubes on CBC's 'Quirks and Quarks.' So, has medicine become a non-science? Is it mostly a non-science? Somewhat?"
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The Obesity Epidemic — Is Medicine Scientific?

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  • by curunir (98273) * on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:12PM (#21424447) Homepage Journal
    When it comes to the current thinking on nutrition, there is a definite point to what he's saying.

    But to say that Exercise has no effect on weight loss is just plain wrong. Exercise changes the way your body processes the food you put into it (or, more accurately, your body adapts to the amount of exercise that you get). Building muscle causes you to require more calories in your diet to support that muscle. And building stamina causes you to burn a lot of calories in the process. And if you want to venture into the unscientific realm, consistent exercise helps to stabilize your mood and makes you less prone to food cravings (the cravings for sugary foods and for fatty foods are based in imbalances in Serotonin and Dopamine levels).

    There is a dire need to re-examine everything we know about a healthy diet. People get so worked up about things like trans fats while completely ignoring the elephant in the room (high-fructose corn syrup). Everyone I know who's given up corn syrup, to the extent that it's possible in the US, has lost a minimum of 10 lbs.

    But to suggest that exercise isn't a vital part of a healthy lifestyle is wrong, and potentially very dangerous.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:15PM (#21424483)
    I lost 25 pounds after I simply cut out bread, potatoes, and sugar from my diet.

    In the mean time, I added a gallon of olive oil every 60 days and a pint of cream a week.

    Tho fit already (sports twice a week, regular walking and exercise) I started developing diabetes (of course my mom and grandparents had it so I'm kinda doomed there). Despite cutting out enormous amounts of carbs and sugars (I was previously drinking 1,000 calories of soda a day), I continue to slide in the bad direction on my blood sugar. It's not diabetic yet but it is just a matter of time.

    My diet consists of large amounts of vegetables, meat courses, almost no grains (2-3 ounces a day tops).

    I think people have different needs based on their genetic history.

    I agree that a lot of "science" these days is opinion, hysteria, or someone's hidden agenda.
  • by Eberlin (570874) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:17PM (#21424545) Homepage
    ...and I have a feeling neither do they.

    Look, we've all been told quite a few different contradictory things when it comes to health and diet. Milk was bad, milk was good, milk has lots of carbs, etc. Eggs are bad, eggs are good, egg yolks are bad but egg whites are good. Cholesterol issues -- have less meat, focus on vegetables and carbs. Diabetes and obesity -- must cut down on carbs. Going strictly vegetarian may make you deficient in certain things only found in meat. Coffee is bad for you, coffee is good for you. Chocolate bad, chocolate good. Wine bad, wine good.

    I think the only constant I have heard is that exercise is good for you and that eating things in moderation is probably a good thing.

  • High glycemic carbs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:19PM (#21424571)
    I don't have time to LTTFP, but I know what worked for me. I was morbidly overweight, and I tried a number of things to get rid of it, including the traditional low-fat + exercise regimen. What finally worked was to eliminate or drastically cut high-glycemic carbs from my diet (rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, sugar, and the like). That, coupled with moderate exercise (walking 1 or 2 miles) helped me to drop 90 pounds in about a year.

    I believe there is a relationship between high glycemic carbs, blood glucose spikes, and insulin, which will cause certain body chemistries to convert and store much of that intake as fat.

    Wish I had discovered this 15 years ago.

  • by rodentia (102779) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:23PM (#21424657)
    The practice of medicine long predates the development of what we currently understand as *science*: the methods of empirical analysis of theses. In particular, there is no time or means for treating each syndrome disclosed to a GP as an object of empirical study. The GP does not form more than a general hypothesis regarding etiology and treatment. Typically the treatment determines the diagnosis.

    For example, it is the season of upper-respiratory infection, caused by a host of bacteria and viruses with very similar effects. The means are available to test phlegm samples and determine an exact diagnosis, but the costs are prohibitive. The GP compares symptoms to the run of illnesses she is seeing recently, prescribes in light of that insight and hopes for the best. If the AB is effective, it was a bacterial infection.

    The practice of medicine, as opposed to medical research, has never been particularly *scientific* in the common sense of the word.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:23PM (#21424661)
    Some people can get all they need to run their bodies on a lot less calories than others.

    I can raise my burn rate for several days by playing hard sports for three hours. People comment that I feel like I have a fever.

    My friend who has developed problems after a life time of being thin has low thyroid and other hormone feedback systems. And she is always hungry- constantly. Even when she eats, she will be hungry again a while later. And not eating does not cause the hunger to fade like it does for me- it just gets stronger.

    I have another friend who has the *reverse* problem. He is slowly losing weight (like a pound a year) despite eating heavily and it is getting kinda critical. He has a messed up endocrine system too.

    Some people are messed up so that any exercise just destroys muscle (they do not get stronger).

    I wish people would not be so judgmental about these things.

    Some people eat because they are sad- some were raised and trained on bad food- some were never trained to enjoy physical activity. Some people have hyper metabolisms that allow them to eat heavily and still remain thin.

    And there is some evidence recently that fat people die less of many diseases. The anti-fat attitudes stink of group-think gone bad.
  • Re:Ugh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheMadcapZ (868196) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:29PM (#21424777)
    It is amazing that the food industry as a whole does not take responsibility for this. They fill everything with MSG which is basically a neuro-toxin. It not only overexcites neurons to death but it leads to hyper-tension and heart arrhythmias. It can cause an increase in total blood cholesterol levels by reducing the ability of the pancreas to metabolize cholesterol and expel it from the body.

    High Fructose corn syrup is a substance which the body does not recognize as a sugar so no insulin is released to handle it. Wonder where that goes in the body? How about the lumps of fat everywhere.

    Hydrogenated Fats (a.k.a Trans Fats) are the worst offender of them all and are the reason Saturated fats got a bad name. This is the substance that hardens the arteries and raises your LDL while lowering your HDL, combine with MSG it is time bomb for heart disease.

    There is research by a Doctor Mary Enig that explains the truth about what fats are good and which are bad. Basically the human body needs a 1 to 1 balance of Omega3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. All the vegetable oil that is being pushed on us is Omega6 with very little Omega3 readily available. And if you deep fry with unsaturated oil the fat molucules are unstable, the heating process causes the molecules to bend and connect in ways which are currently defined as trans-fats (i.e. fat molecules not found in nature)

    These are the some of the the things the medical establishment chooses to overlook as it is more profitable to leaves the causes of the problems in place and treat the symptoms until we all die.

    In January I had an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure, I was sent to a cardiologist to get tested, they said everything with the heart looked fine and they had no idea what was causing it. They put me on blood pressure medication and sent me on my way. Well I hate medication so I did some research and found the link to MSG and how it causes irregular heartbeats by inducing a Taurine deficiency. I changed my diet to avoid MSG as much as possible and also started a Taurine supplement. Now my heart beat is regular and my blood pressure is way down.

    I relate this story because your life is really in your hands. The minute you surrender it to doctors you risk the chance of never being normal again. Always question the cause of things, don't just accept band-aids on symptoms. Also read ingredients and find out what effects they may have on the body.

    Sorry for the rant, but this is a hot button topic for me. Good luck all!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:30PM (#21424809)
    Simple.

    The body has a target rate of calories that it needs daily. If you cut around to about 300 calories below that, you will lose weight at a healthy rate. If you cut too far below 300, your body goes into survival mode, taking anything it can and turning it into fat. This might result in weight loss, but it is considered unhealthy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:33PM (#21424851)

    What do you like to eat?
    That's the question I try to avoid answering. I grew up on a farm, I'm sure my body has adjusted to what I eat. I used to drink milk straight. I mean, we're talking over 50% of the calories from fat. The stuff still had flecks of straw in it.

    Pretty gross, huh? Not for me. I still go through 1/2 to 1 gallon of milk a week. I've tried to cut back to skim but I buy the organic stuff from Trader Joes and it is great. Once I had a physical and my doctor told me I had twice the amount of calcium I should in my blood. I really didn't care or listen to him. When I come home, sometimes I feel like drinking a lot of milk. Two or three glasses of milk is not uncommon for me.

    Aside from that, I'm all over the road. If I feel like red meat, I'll go to Fuddruckers and eat a 1 lb burger. Or maybe I feel like a Chipotle burrito. Like I said, I just eat whenever I want to and I eat what my stomach tells me to eat. I pack the carbs on and eat a ton of this greek yogurt called "Fage." I am by no means a health nut, I just know what I love to eat and I eat a lot of it. Canned tuna, red meats, bread, salads, burritos, rice, kalamata olives for snacks, the list goes on. I have a very diverse diet.

    But it's also true that I get out and burn energy when my body tells me to. I'll set at a desk coding for 8 hours a day, get home and I won't be able to sit. That means either go to the gym or go running. And if I miss that because I have something else going on, I make it up later. I can always go running outside if I want to.

    Is this some revolutionary new diet? Is this something that I need to get out and tell everyone else to do? Heavens no! I shouldn't even be posting about it! I just keep it to myself and recommend people that because of genetics, how they developed & food processing these days that everyone has their own needs. Find out what yours are. Visit your doctor. Make a plan for yourself and get on it if you need one. Those are my recommendations.

    Don't go down to the store and pick up the latest "South Bronx Diet Virus" book that some dude wrote when he noticed two of his patients respond well to it.
  • by Burning1 (204959) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:33PM (#21424865) Homepage
    I use the Physics Diet [lbl.gov].

    It has to work, because it's physics.
  • by phunctor (964194) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:35PM (#21424905)
    He makes the extraordinary claim that Official Nutrition has been getting it wrong for the last 40 years. However, he provides and discusses a solid body of relevant and eminently respectable (Lancet, JAMA, NEJM, etc..) citations to support his claim. Color me 95% convinced.

    He notes that the application of the first law of thermodynamics (the slogan is "A Calorie is A Calorie") to a homeostatic dissipative system like the human body is beyond simplistic. It is simply wrong.

    The core of his thesis is that a cellular-level metabolic disorder caused over time by consumption of concentrated and rapidly available carbohydrates, and the insulin spikes they provoke, is the cause not only of obesity but also of type II diabetes. Briefly, fat cells become too good at extracting glucose from the blood and storing it. This results in cellular-level semi-starvation in other body tissues, expressed at the organismic level by eating more and exercising less.

    He depicts the high level of investment in the competing "gluttony & sloth" model of obesity which exists in our medical establishment and in our culture. Indeed, from his portrayal this viewpoint is very close to being an ideology rather than a theory, in that dissenters are cast into outer darkness rather than refuted.

    He discusses the personalities and politics involved in the alleged disastrous wrong turn, and points up some interesting coincidences involving what research gets funded, and what research doesn't get funded, by for example sugar producers.

    I'm intentionally being very brief. If you have a personal stake, read this book and form your own conclusions.

    --
    phunctor
  • by cartman (18204) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:42PM (#21425019)

    The recommended advice of replacing fats with carbohydrates was repeated so often and so forcefully by everyone, that it's now printed on the back of almost every box of food in the country, in the form of the "USDA food pyramid". It was so often repeated that when I was a child (in the 1970s) things like wonder bread with a bit of margarine were considered health foods (lots of carbs, no saturated fat).

    I had always assumed that the medical community had done large-scale long-term studies demonstrating that such a diet led to an increase in lifespan, a reduction in disease, and a loss of unhealthy pounds. Apparently, such studies were never done.

    But then the massive Harvard Nurses Heatlh Study [harvard.edu] was performed, ending in the mid-1990s. In that study, researchers followed 40,000 nurses for decades, in what was the largest and most comprehensive study on human nutrition ever. The study found that replacing fats with carbohydrates had absolutely no effect on longevity or disease. Furthermore, replacing butter with margarine (the standard dietary advice for decades) led to no benefit either. IIRC, the only nurses who lived longer and had less disease were those who ate nutrient-dense monounsaturated fats like almonds and cashews.

    As a result of the Harvard Nurses Health Study, researchers in nutrition quietly dropped their assumptions about dietary fats causing disease.

    I still can't believe it. The standard dietary advice from 1960 to 1990 must have been the single largest pseudoscientific load of crap in modern history. What a colossal embarrassment. If the USDA publicly admits that it was mistaken then it will be a long time before people trust it again.

  • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StarvingSE (875139) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:47PM (#21425109)
    I've been following the south beach diet for a couple of months now, and I have already lost a significant amount of weight. I don't follow it exactly, I use it mostly as a framework than anything else. It makes a lot of sense, and the scientific explainations of why it works makes sense as well. For those who don't know what it is, it's basically cutting out all highly processed foods from your diet and to stick to whole grains and whole unprocessed (ie not from a box) food.

    It's not really a "diet" in the traditional weight-watchers sense. It's a change in eating habits, and I really think it could benefit a lot of people. Besides the weight loss, I feel like I have more energy and things like heart burn, which I suffered from regularly, are nearly eliminated.
  • by uuxququex (1175981) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:53PM (#21425249)
    I am morbidly obese according to BMI, I weigh 299 pounds. I'm a big guy, lots of muscle, but also a lot of fat.

    I do four sessions of aerobic exersize a week, one hour each. In between I lift/pull/push a lot of weight around, typically 90 minutes per session.

    I eat small portions, my meals are based on instructions of a dietary specialist. No more than 1750 calories a day, and only out of "good" foodstuffs. This gets checked regularly, every three months I spend a week in a clinic where *everything* gets monitored.

    I have done this for more than the last two years. In that time, I've not broken my diet or lost a day of exersize, not even once. Really.

    I'm still fat, I haven't lost a single pound. In fact, I gained 7 pounds.

    Imagine that.

  • Vegetables ... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:56PM (#21425319)
    .. you may have heard of them. They grow, almost magically, independently from the food industry you talk of. They are not filled with MSG, High Fructose corn syrup or Hydrogenated Fats.

    Stop buying shit in cans, tubes, packets and aerosols and pick up something not sheathed in plastic for a change. Pick some of the low carbohydrate ones from (random google) here: http://www.iloveindia.com/nutrition/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-in-vegetables.html [iloveindia.com]

    I know I can't expect much personal responsibility from a country which gave us aerosol cheese, but FFS, just but something that didn't require a factory to make it.
  • by NotPeteMcCabe (833508) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:59PM (#21425357)
    A few years ago I researched and wrote some articles for a diet-program company's web site. One thing that stood out to me was that all calories are not made equal. If you eat 100 calories of fat, it only takes your body 3 calories to process and store those 100 calories. If you eat 100 calories of complex carbohydrates, it takes your body 23 calories to process the food. So the fat will make you fatter than the complex carbos.

    Technically, the basic principle of calories in - calories consumed still applies, but some foods affect both sides of the equation.

  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:27PM (#21425817) Journal
    That's a very passionately-argued position you hold, but it's kind of hard to reconcile with how

    -Doctors routinely get Bayesian inference [yudkowsky.net] horribly wrong.
    -Doctors routinely change their treatment regimens based on an ignorant patient's suggestion. (else why would pharmas invest so much in TV ads and drug bimbos?)
    -Doctors are more than happy to mandate strict entry requirements, but not require that they be routinely re-tested based on the latest science.
    -Why there's so much subjectivity in medicine (why doctors can disagree on treatment).
  • by gnuman99 (746007) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:36PM (#21425963)
    high calories "carb" snacks? WTF? Find me *one* that is a snack not a drink.

    Everything in snacks is either high fat, and saturated fat at that (chocolate, chips, fries, etc.), or high in the "So Great for You" high-fructose corn crap. The only high carb thing available are the soft drinks and "juices". Or people started eating high carb snacks like apples, oranges, bananas, pineapples? The calories in those are mostly all from carbs!

    Fatness is from one thing and one thing only - eating too much *calories* and not getting enough exercise.

    The low-carb propaganda just leads to
        * depression (you need sugars for seratonin)
        * kindey failure - switching your diet to high protein puts a heavy load on kidneys, and thus problems
        * low energy (no carbs! guess what?!)

    Carbs are really *needed* as long as you use them up! If you take a 800 calories shot of carbs from your McLarge Cola and then sit on your couch, you'll end up either fat or with diabetes or both. 800 carbs consumed => 1600 calories burned in exercise and you'll be fine and feel good. And no, diet drinks are even worse for you.

    But then this the problem - people are inherently *lazy*. They will chose to die than get off their couches. At least that's what 60% of Britons would do. I bet it may be even worse in US.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6994632.stm [bbc.co.uk]

  • by FreakinSyco (873416) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:41PM (#21426077)
    In the past couple of months I've taken 3 inches off my waist line. My family all asks how I did it. I tell them "I've simply stopped eating as much". I eat one decent meal a day (maybe lunch, maybe dinner) and sometimes a snack of peanuts or something else natural (no reason for that.. just me). I'm at most mildly hungry during the end of the day, never starving.

    I've never seen that story before, but it describes me to the "T". It works.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:47PM (#21426185) Homepage

    After having read the majority of the threads it seems that everyone on Slashdot thinks they are a nutritional expert. Somehow I don't think that is the case.

    No, it isn't the case. The truth is that everyone in America and on the Internet is a nutritional expert. It's not just on Slashdot.

    Nutrition and medicine are some of those interesting fields where people feel empowered to share their knowledge, even if it is inaccurate. This happens in every field, of course, but you are far less likely to hear Joe Simple claiming to understand nuclear physics or assembly language than to understand nutrition or healthcare. Just yesterday I overhead a couple of geniuses talking about why high-protein diets make you lose weight: because protein actually breaks down fat in your blood, so you poop it out faster! No, really. They had read this somewhere. There was scientific research and everything.

    And sadly, they probably had read it, which is the other problem with nutrition/healthcare in the U.S.: almost anyone can say anything, no matter how true it is. Some years back I came across the web site of a supposed M.D. who claimed that jumping up and down on a trampoline would cure AIDS by realigning the vertical axis of cells in your body....

  • Fruit, Meat, Fat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrKaos (858439) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:51PM (#21426237) Journal
    The research of Western A Price is good work. He examined the diets of tribal peoples and orangutans (our digestive systems are very close to orangutans) and found that fruit (most), meat (some) and fat (when available) were the primary components of their diet - fat being the most valuable food. Carbohydrates and sugar are not very far away from each other, I think that carbs are at least as addictive as sugar and should be managed in the diet - eaten early in the day and rarely at night. Unprocessed Carbs with complex molecular structures (Complex Carbohydrates) is what was originally being recommended back in the day as being healthy, like oats, brown breads, you need some carbs and the more complex the slower the energy release in the body. As for sugars, unprocessed raw sugars and brown sugar won't leech as much nutrients out of the body as white sugar. Just steer clear of processed foods as much as possible and you will be ok.

    Certain fats change chemically when heated, some fat is bad and some is lethal. A few fats and oils are excellent, i.e Olive oil. In our society fat is easy to aquire and in nature it isn't. High fat and protein diets are DANGEROUS for extended periods of time without an equivalent amount of fruit goodness and fibre. Fruit is the human beings best friend making up the majority of the orangutan and native human diet, want to loose fat - eat more fruit, sendentary lifestyle - eat LOTS more fruit.

    But you have to excercise. Our bodies were designed to walk a minimum of 35-40 Kilometres a day - there is no other way to explain our legs in an evolutionary sense (our ancestors had to hunt and gather food) and this guy trys to wriggle out of that. I excercise a lot - train a number of different martial arts, played soccer, run and swim not to stay thin (I'm 96 kilos or 211 pounds and pretty fit) but to keep that black dog (depression) at bay and be a better coder. For some, food is a replacement for something else in their lives and they will eat lots of processed foods, not excercise and wonder how they got fat. I think obesity and depression are linked as I have seen many examples of one leading to the other, so (for me at least) the consequences of not excercising are too serious to risk.

    The bottom line is it's too easy for us to get a hold of processed foods in our diets, The key to knowing is by asking yourself "How processed is this food?". I suspect the industrialisation of our food processes will be held up as the cause of Obesity and Depression sometime in the future when we stop looking at food as just broad set of components and look at it as a whole. Mass production of food stuffs have served to lower the nutritional content of all foods, and how do we know that the cruel treatment of food animals isn't introducing toxins and poisons into our diets that make us sick? Taubs is just swinging the pendulum the other way, not explaining that there are several pendulums to co-ordinate.

    Now, I'm going to polish off this rockmelon before I go for a swim.

  • by tom_gram (861041) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @05:03PM (#21426447)
    But don't ignore Taubes own rebuttal (to Fumento's response) on the same site,

    http:///www.reason.com/news/show/28721.html [reason.com]

    whose summary comment is: "And this is the point: when an article such as mine suggests that three decades of dietary dogma might be both wrong and hazardous to the health, it will elicit public and perhaps angry responses from purveyors of that dogma"

    Note that Fumento's heated response is not to the book, but to Traubes NT Times magazine article, which was written in an inflammatory style...(citation in prior posts, and available in links within Fumento's response)

  • Americans' caloric consumption increased 12 percent, about 300 calories, between 1985 and 2000 [usda.gov]. The idea that this is unrelated to the fact that Americans are getting more and more obese is an extraordinary claim; advocates of high-protein diets have produced no extraordinary evidence to back it up.

    My shiatsu teacher once noted that it's easier to get people to change their religion than it is to get them to change their diet. Probably true - if early Christians had made Gentile converts keep kosher, Jesus of Nazareth would likely be historical footnote today. The way that high-protein diet advocates cling to their beliefs is just another example.

    As for the broader question of the scientific basis of medicine, most medicine is based on observation and experience, not controlled studies. It's hard to experiment on human beings in a controlled fashion, after all. That doesn't necessarily mean it's not scientific - astronomers don't get to do controlled experiments on stars, either.

    But it is true that a lot of accepted medical "knowledge" has little evidence to back it up. It's interesting that many "skeptics" who demand double-blind studies of, say, acupuncture, are likely to have no qualms about undergoing a surgical procedure which has undergone no such testing. Medicine has the look of "Science" even when it doesn't have the substance. (More about science and Chinese medicine here [earthtouchshiatsu.com], if anyone's interested.)

  • by schweini (607711) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @05:24PM (#21426821)
    My girlfriend happens to be a doctor, and currently works in a 'obesity clinic', and she is going for a PhD in public health, with a focus on obesity, and she left me with the impression that:
    - Real medicine never was a 'real' science. It's absolutely shocking how many publications, treatments and diagnosis are based purely on 'gut feelings', or incoherent theories. Just pull up any statistics on malpractices, and be shocked. No other 'science' could get away with so many errors, after such a long time of experimenting. This happens in part because medicine is a rather unique applied science: there're a lot of psychological factors, and incredible amount of measuring errors, a gigantic level of complexity and tons of historic 'baggage' that doctors have to face every day.
    - Medicine is getting a lot better in this aspect - there seems to be a relatively new way of thinking (in the medical community, at least) called "Evidence based medicine", which, if i understood correctly, could be basically summed up as applying scientific principals to the medical processes
    - Obesity in specific is extremely complex. Almost everything you do has some influence on you body-weight and composition. Of course the laws of thermodynamics apply to human beings, too, but there are a gazillion factors that influence just how exactly the body deals with excessive calorie intake, or lack thereof, ranging from genetical to psychological and social factors. Just a basic example would be that if you simply stop eating for a week, you usually lose LESS weight compared to if you start 'snacking' all the time, eating 5 little meals a day (basic theory behind this sems to be that the body switches to 'emergency mode' if there's no food around, trying to save as may energy reserves as it can)
    - Most theories seem to me to be a wild mixture of anecdotal observations mixed with biochemistry, somehow resembling Freudian theories - they are coherent in them selves, but lack a level of 'scientific interconection' to other knowledges. So it's quite common for a specific theory in obesity to me contradictory to a theory of e.g. neuroscience. As long as both theories "kind of" work, it doesn't seem to be a top priority to resolve that discrepancy (in contrast to what i have observed in 'hard sciences'). AS far as I can tell, thee's no real proof or reason why Whiskey shouldn't be as bad as Vodka in a diet, yet (here, at least) it's common knowledge that whiskey's ok, but vodka will make you fat - and as long as this works, it doesnt matter that much why this happens, or if it happens at all.
  • by Anzya (464805) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @05:54PM (#21427305)
    I'm from Sweden and I'm sorry to say that I have never heard of anyone who visited the US and said that the food is good. Most people seems to be bored out of their skulls and the ones who stayed for a longer spell all complained that they gained weight.
    Oh and here's a fast test to see if your food is healthy or not. If it has corn syrup, E620-E625 and/or artificial sweetners in it then I would toss it. Preferable in cement and let it sit for a couple of thousand years :) Corn syrup and the artificial sweetners will play havoc with your insulin making you eat more than you need and E620-E625 will short cuircit your brain by bypassing the normal way tastes gets propagated in the brain. I would recommend drinking some booze instead of the last group, you might hurt your brain just the same in the long run but at least you'll get some fun along the way :)

    If I still had moderator points I would mod you funny. :)
  • Keep at it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TamMan2000 (578899) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @06:39PM (#21427909) Journal
    I started running about 8 years ago...

    I was a bit over 100 kg (230 lbs) when I started, now I am down to about 165 lbs (75 kg), and my pulse is in the low 40's first thing in the morning... My wife loves the way I look, I feel great, I eat just about everything in sight (4,500-5,000 Cal/day), and I write better code after my mid-day run break... Ask anyone who went from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one about how they feel, and how healthy they are, and you will find similar stories...

    I can accept the premise of the article, that conventional wisdom on weight is unproven, but I think that is due to not having done the right experiment yet, not the falsehood of the conventional wisdom...
  • by DaedalusHKX (660194) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @10:56PM (#21430507) Journal
    My family taught me something when I was young and came to America, and miraculously became pudgy... "they have sugar in EVERYTHING here", so we cooked at home, and ate at home a lot, and bought mostly the basic building blocks of food, and... (ding ding) made it at home. There was never a shortage of sweets in the house, or of food. And once we dropped the soda pop and store bought cookie fads, our fat content dropped.

    Here's the catch. I work out and jog (swim, bike, etc, that's beside the point), but I do it to keep myself physically strong and resilient. I don't exercise to lose weight. It didn't really work, all it did was convert some of the fat to muscle. The rest went away as I began to eat regular healthy meals and cut down on the crap food to once a week or less. (Never cut the nasty stuff completely, or the cravings will find another way to surface, psychologically speaking. We're human and we're tempted, find a way to replace your cravings with something less nasty, that'd be it.)

    My secret? I eat at least an egg a day, regular tea and hot chocolate, sausages or meat once a day :) Salads, etc. My diet is as varied as it gets, and yet I'm in good shape and I've lost weight. Interesting? I was shocked. I have had two to three week breaks in my exercise routine, and yet no weight gained, and I lose little to none of my conditioning. (First day back I usually run half a mile, but I can get back to two to three miles a day the next day... shocked the life out of me since I was so used to what the idiots in school taught us. Seems almost everything school teaches can be thrown out once you graduate... preferably before. Including the lack of a good warmup before exercise, which is what destroys so many people's joints.) Strangely enough, I have "healthy levels" of the following. "Blood Sugar", "cholesterol", "blood pressure", "heart rate", with no murmurs, no palpitations and roughly no issues whatsoever.

    Rule #1? Live a good, healthy and complete life, stop struggling for shit you don't need, and stop fighting battles that don't gain you anything, not even satisfaction (which is more important than people think.)

    Rule #2? Stop living with fear. Fear is the only thing you should fear, if anything at all. If something you do makes you "afraid", find out why, and get rid of the problem, don't just suppress the symptoms. Oftentimes fear will simply be some choice you make that you don't understand. Fear is among the worst stressors out there, yet few realize this. Getting into a fight with your boss and walking out of a job without fear is better than living each day at that job constantly afraid that you'll lose it someday and that you won't make payments on that brand new SUV you didn't really need (or want) or that three story house that only you and several ghosts live in (or whatever it is that keeps turning on the lights each night.)

    All in all, remove fear by understanding what causes it and deal with it. That and discover the things that satisfy and please you, and surround yourself with those things. Often they are cheaper than you can imagine. Short of hunting and fishing, I have VERY few expensive hobbies. My garage is bigger than my house, as is my shop. Most of my "toys" I built myself, and will continue to do so. I use my life as an example, merely because I've been through all the problems many complain about, and have found ways to complete the needs behind each problem without rushing into a marriage or running into the arms of the nanny state or going on clinical drugs. Do I still have issues? Hell yeah. If I was perfect, I wouldn't be human.
  • Re:Ugh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arminw (717974) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @07:57AM (#21433435)
    ....Any time in which you must observe a group that consists of humans, you are incapable of running multiple tests across multiple generations......

    However you can find out what healthy, long lived people groups life style contributed for generations to their well being. Until the advent of our present "industrial" foods, the degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity was rare.

    We use a simple rule when shopping. Pick the item with the shortest ingredient list. For example, get ice cream made with real cream, whole milk, egg and flavoring, rather than the one with a long list of unpronounceable chemicals. Get sourdough bread made with whole grains.

    Avoid foods that are "ized" and "ated", as in homogenized, pasteurized, hydrogenated etc. We get milk directly from a farmer. It is just as it comes from his healthy cows, complete with all enzymes needed to properly digest it and the cream floating on top. Pasteurization destroys the enzymes and homogenization makes the fat particles small enough to pass undigested into the blood and help clog the arteries. This is much more effort than simply reaching into the dairy case at the supermarket.

    Avoid industrial oils, such as soy, canola. Use real butter, cream, olive and coconut oils. Avoid refined foods and drinks but concentrate on the stuff that is natural.

    Don't sit in front of a display for too long, but get out at least a bit for each day. Stop worrying about stuff you cannot do anything about.
  • by Fross (83754) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @08:14AM (#21433501) Homepage
    Obesity is not an "epidemic". It is not contagious. Being fat is not a disease. It is a by-product of poor nutritional choices and poor lifestyle. Some people have a predisposition or even illness that can cause obesity, but they are a tiny minority. If you eat Cheetos and sit on your sofa all day, you're going to get fat. And it's YOUR fault.

    Treating fat as a "disease" is the typical victim mentality that's so prevalent these days to try to shirk responsibility. I'm not fat, I have a disease. I am not an alcoholic bum, I have a disease. Whether or not one tries to reclassify the word to include behavioral dysfunction, the fact is that it is self-inflicted and people would rather play victim than stand up for themselves, take responsibility for their actions, and stop cramming themselves full of cake or booze or heroin or whatever.

    Cancer is a disease. If someone kept injecting themselves with malignant cells of their own will, would you have any sympathy for them?
  • Re:Ugh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bluesangria (140909) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @10:08AM (#21434185)
    I would like to add a personal anecdote in support of this statement. For one week I paid very close attention to how I felt after I had eaten things like cookies, cokes, candies, etc., even bread and pasta. I noticed that even though I was gorged on food, I was still craving REAL FOOD. In marked contrast, if I ate a hearty salad and nice hunk of some meat, I felt perfectly satisfied and not even overly full. Sugar is exceedingly insidious in how it stimulates your appetite, while forcing your body to store extra calories that it has no nutritional use for. They're not kidding when they call sugar "empty calories".

    So, why don't I just stop eating sugar? Because cookies, cakes and cokes are delicious! Plus, I feel it's mildly addicting. You really have to focus to avoid the temptation which surrounds you on a daily basis (office snacks and sweets) AND be vigilant in avoiding foods that come with ADDED SUGAR to improve the flavor (peanut butter anyone?).

    Oh, another thing, eating healthy, natural foods is expensive. A nice cut of meat and DAILY fresh vegetables costs alot more than those 10 packages of ramen noodles. This is why obesity is more an epidemic among the poor than among the wealthy. Cheap food = sugary food = obesity.

    Just my $.02.

    blue

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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