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Biotech Science

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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  • Ugh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    Not more of this low-carb propaganda bullshit. Calories make you fat, regardless of whether they come from fat, sugars, or starches.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mocm (141920)
      But insulin makes you hungry and eating carbs especially sugar makes you release insulin.
      • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by StarvingSE (875139) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:47PM (#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.
        • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by RobFlynn (127703) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:54PM (#21425271)
          You basically said it here -- the "diet" doesn't matter so much -- if people would stop eating foods that suck and if they'd get up off their butts sometimes, then they will be healthier.

          My mother has been overweight for some time. She has a medical condition which caused it. She ate well and exercised and she was still overweight. She just couldn't do anything about it. Doctors prescribed her some medication to help the issue, but itcaused all kinds of problems, so she went off it. She gained the weight back. People like that are pretty much the only ones I feel sorry for when it comes to weight.

          Hell, I could stand to lose a good 30lbs myself. And ya know what, I'm the one to blame? I'm a computer programmer that sits around eating crap all day. That's my fault. I also used to be very fit, and that was also my doing. I ate well, actually, more than I eat now, and did a little bit of exercise.

          It just takes a little effort and common sense. Most people want the magical easy solution...
        • Re:Ugh... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:56PM (#21425309) Journal
          Medicine is scientific where it can be. Any time in which you must observe a group that consists of humans, you are incapable of running multiple tests across multiple generations. You're dead before you find out what long term effect a lifestyle can have.

          As for being fat. If you eat like a predator, you'll have a body like a predator. If you eat like a herbivore, you'll look like one.

          So, eat huge portions of animal flesh, late in the day, and stay away from sugars and starches, and you won't look like a cow.

          The more you force your body to get its energy from fat, the better it will get at doing it.
          • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Funny)

            by Retric (704075) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:06PM (#21425493)
            As for being fat. If you eat like a predator, you'll have a body like a predator. If you eat like a herbivore, you'll look like one.

            I agree with my tribal elder's wisdom from the ages. (aka Citation needed.)
            • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by pragma_x (644215) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:16PM (#21426673) Journal

              As for being fat. If you eat like a predator, you'll have a body like a predator. If you eat like a herbivore, you'll look like one.
              I know this is tongue in cheek, and I tend to agree, but it made me think. I sure do want some BBQ right about now.

              To be fair about it, predators also eat the bone, blood, organs, entrails and even the ruminate inside. They need to since flesh (muscle and skin) doesn't have the mineral and vitamin content an animal needs to survive.

              So, be sure to have a nice slice of kidney pie, bone meal, some chitins, and liver with that hamburger! Yum-o.

              Honestly, you'll get farther eating like the omnivore you are: meat, vegetables, herbs, fruit and few processed carbs and sugars.
            • Re:Ugh... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @12:39AM (#21431691)
              The reason that predators have the bodies that they do is that they have to go chase after their prey and burn up a lot of energy patiently stalking their next meal. They also sleep a lot in order to conserve energy, since their meals have the annoying habit of not wanting to be eaten, making them less plentiful than, say, grass, which is pretty much everywhere and is far less likely to struggle.
          • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Funny)

            by cbr2702 (750255) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:08PM (#21425529) Homepage
            "If you eat like a predator, you'll have a body like a predator. If you eat like a herbivore, you'll look like one."

            Why only eating? Why not acting? Chase down those animals yourself (with no tools); that'll improve your body.
          • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Informative)

            by IllForgetMyNickSoonA (748496) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:17PM (#21425677)
            You seem to forget a tiny inconvenient fact about predators: they don't get their fat from the local store. They have to RUN, sometimes all day, in order to get something to eat. Just buying some fat shit in Wall Mart, eating it in front of the TV, then turning in to a late-night slashdot session, for sure WON'T make you look like a Cheetah. Sure, you should train your body to get its energy from fat. However, the only way to do it is to EXERCISE, with the correct heart frequency and for a prolonged time periods (at least one hour per exercise, at least 3-4 times a week). I've been running for the past 8 months. I feel WAY better, my waist circumference has decreased significantly, my heart frequency is now around 60-65 (was: 75+), and my blood pressure went 10-15 points down. I don't go out of breath by going 2-3 floors by stairs any more. Actually, I even barely notice it. I really don't believe I'd have seen the same effect if I just started "eating like a predator" instead. I'm still over 100kg though, but I'm working on it.
            • Keep at it (Score:4, Interesting)

              by TamMan2000 (578899) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @05:39PM (#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...
          • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Funny)

            by eln (21727) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:18PM (#21426693) Homepage

            As for being fat. If you eat like a predator, you'll have a body like a predator. If you eat like a herbivore, you'll look like one.
            You're right. I eat just like a predator, meaning I hunt for days to find food, then chase it down for 2 hours before I finally catch it. Then, I tear through it with my pointed teeth and razor sharp claws, eating as much as possible while trying to fend off predators. As a result, I have a svelte physique and a thick, glossy coat.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by arminw (717974)
            ....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, ge
        • Re:Ugh... (Score:4, Funny)

          by TheWizardOfCheese (256968) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:21PM (#21426755)
          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've been using Cold FX for a couple of months now, and I haven't had a single cold. I've been investing in winter wheat futures for a couple of months now, and I've made a fortune. I've been watching red-haired people for a couple of months now, and a lot of them seem to be left-handed." Anecdotes like these aren't worthless, but they aren't very conclusive either.

          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.

          Your main problem will be to find someone to dispute this advice. You just need to add lower taxes, increased services, and motherhood to your platform and you can run for congress.
    • Only the unused calories make you fat.
    • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by tgd (2822) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:22PM (#21424629)
      This thread is ripe for turning into a flame-fest, but you may want to do at least some casual reading on what insulin is and the processes the body goes through to process fats, proteins and sugars. There's a thousand variables involved in how the body processes raw materials it takes in and what it does with the materials it creates from them. No combination of those will result in your blanket statement.
    • Not more of this low-carb propaganda bullshit.

      I understand your anger, but the issue here is whether the low-carb propaganda is really bullshit or not. It is a matter that should be investigated, otherwise those dismissing it as bullshit would effectively act as anti-low-carb zealots, instead of following the scientific method.

      Also, we have to wonder why the US (the country where the Food Pyramid originated) is also where the "fatness" phenomenon originated, and why the countries that start to follow the "american way of life" (fast food, sedentary life, high-calory carb snacks) tend to follow american's fatness. This phenomenon, at least country-wise, behaves like an epidemic.
      • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75@y a h o o . c om> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:56PM (#21425297)
        I understand your anger, but the issue here is whether the low-carb propaganda is really bullshit or not. It is a matter that should be investigated, otherwise those dismissing it as bullshit would effectively act as anti-low-carb zealots, instead of following the scientific method.

        Ok, here's your scientific study:

        Asians eat carbs with almost every meal (rice, noodles). They are thinner than us. End of story.

        Excess calories make you fat. That's a law of physics; I have no idea why some people dispute it. It's like arguing with the law of gravity. The only question is whether calories coming from different sources are absorbed more slowly or quickly, but the end result is the same unless you're exercising to stay in shape. A calorie is a unit of energy and if that energy is not used, it must be stored. Energy doesn't just disappear into thin air; when you consume it, you either use it or you store it.

        And I really don't think there are any scientists out there saying otherwise; I don't know of any scientist saying "eating fat makes you fat" or even "eating carbs makes you fat". The only time that's ever said is in the context of certain types of high-fat or high-carb foods generally being higher in calories, which is true. Although again, Asians eat plenty of fatty meats along with their carbs and they're still thinner than we are. The reason is they just eat less. Which means fewer calories.

        Not rocket science. And we've got all the knowledge we need.
        • by cbr2702 (750255) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:16PM (#21425651) Homepage
          "Excess calories make you fat. That's a law of physics; I have no idea why some people dispute it. It's like arguing with the law of gravity. The only question is whether calories coming from different sources are absorbed more slowly or quickly, but the end result is the same unless you're exercising to stay in shape. A calorie is a unit of energy and if that energy is not used, it must be stored. Energy doesn't just disappear into thin air; when you consume it, you either use it or you store it."

          This would require human waste to have no caloric value.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by happyemoticon (543015)

          Well, yeah. That's the basic message that the food lobby has been trying to suppress for decades because it would undermine their business. I forget the actual case, but some scientist was commissioned by the US Congress to study nutrition, and came up with "Eat less, eat less meat, and eat more vegetables." The food lobby put so much pressure on him that he had to change it to "Eat more vegetables." As a result, people started eating more, then they got more fat.

          Anyway, forgive me if this sounds like a p

        • by sitarah (955787) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:47PM (#21426173) Homepage
          "Calories in, calories out. It's so easy!" You are missing the point and the reason all these low-carb, low-fat, low-whatever suggestions exist. Calories in, calories out works in a lab environment where you can measure intake, consumption methods, and waste precisely. You cannot do that with humans. There are too many variables.

          1) You don't know what your calories out are.

          You have no idea what you are really burning, standing around, unless you get a battery of tests performed to check your metabolism, lung function, and body heat during any given activity.

          There are a ton of things that affect your metabolic rate; your core temperature, insulin levels, sugar sensitivity, allergies, your inclination to fidget, whether you are building muscle at a given time, whether you are healing wounds or recovering from sickness. There has even been researching suggesting that 3 months of consistent exercise actually changes your energy consumption at a mitochondrial level. Did you know soy and broccoli reduce the level of iodine in your body and therefore inhibit metabolic function?

          2) You don't know what your calories in are.

          You know what the government knows about broccoli: that if you light it on fire, it burns at x rate, and it leaves behind x waste. They extrapolate its structure from there. That has nothing to do with how well your body actually digests the food and uses that energy. You could have an extremely acidic stomach, or lock up calories with excess fiber, or drink too much and hurry food through your intestinal track before you can extract all its energy.

          You also don't know how well-marbled their test steak was, how saturated with water their chicken breast was (did you know supermarket chicken is injected with saltwater?), or how aerated their whipped cream was. This will all lead to a difference in caloric value. These little differences all add up.

          These diet plans that discard certain foods do so with the idea that we might be able to find a diet that works by minimizing a variable; eat fewer carbs to reduce insulin levels, isolate sugar sensitivity, eat less wheat to minimize allergies, eat less meat to reduce hormones, salt, and saturated fat, etc.

          Asians are genetically different; they have different musculatures (they might have smaller thighs, for instance, meaning they burn less calories because that's a very large muscle group), different insulin levels, they may produce heat differently than Europeans due to their environment. There's also cultural differences; less dairy, more lean meat, etc. You're just not making an apples to apples comparison.
          • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:42PM (#21427101) Homepage Journal

            Calories in, calories out works in a lab environment where you can measure intake, consumption methods, and waste precisely. You cannot do that with humans. There are too many variables.

            You don't know what your calories out are

            You don't know what your calories in are

            Which would be a great point if I was trying to determine exactly how much I should eat to lose 10.3 lbs in 35.7 days. However, I don't need anywhere near the precision you're talking about there. There aren't "too many variables." There's only one variable that matters: Calories. So I don't know exactly how many calories the broccoli I'm eating or the meat I'm eating has. However, those tests are pretty good estimates in telling me the calorie density of foods, and I can substitute more calorie dense foods (like chocolate cakes) with less calorie dense foods (like fruits) and know that I'm eating less calories. Then I can weigh myself and see if I'm losing weight. If I'm not, I can eat less and / or exercise more (use up more calories) until I do start losing weight. It will work. Guaranteed. Because the only thing that matters is that I eat less calories than I use up and I will lose weight. It doesn't matter what the exact numbers are.

            And I lost 50 lbs recently by doing just that. And my roommate lost 100 lbs by doing that. And another friend lost about 40. I don't know anyone who actually stuck with said method and didn't lose weight. And if I did know someone, and verified it, I'd tell him to go claim James Randi's prize, because it would be a physics-defying supernatural event.

            Now to be fair, it can be complicated, because of the psychological aspects of dieting. Dieting sucks, and if you don't stick with it, it won't work. I have cravings for chocolate cakes and I hate fruit. So any diet that gives you a little cheating room and is based on substituting calorie dense foods with less calorie dense foods is likely to be more successful then diets that give you extremely small portions of food and don't allow you to ever have days off, simply because I'm not likely to have the willpower to stick with that second diet. In addition, you need to make sure you're getting your proper nutrition from whatever diet you're at if you want to remain healthy.

            So, there are diets that are better than others, but the losing weight equation just boils down to calories.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Rutulian (171771)
            1) You don't know what your calories out are.
            2) You don't know what your calories in are.
            Asians are genetically different


            Yes yes, those are all variables, and there are a ton more. But you're missing the point. The specific variables that determine an individual's metabolic rate and efficiency are important for accurate quantification, but irrelevant to simply monitoring your diet. Just look at your body and make comparisons every several months. Are you putting on muscle mass? Are you putting on weight? Ar
      • by happyemoticon (543015) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:01PM (#21425397) Homepage

        the countries that start to follow the "american way of life" (fast food, sedentary life, high-calory carb snacks) tend to follow american's fatness.

        The palate in America is very sweet. Granted, I only have a few weeks in Spain to base my opinion on, but it seemed quite conclusive and corroberates with what I've heard from some family members who've traveled more than I have.

        Take a churro. In America, it's a deep-fried dough stick rolled in sugar and cinnamon. In Spain, it's a deep-fried dough stick. It's savory by our standards. You get a cup of hot chocolate, and it tastes almost like coffee. You get ham, and it's not the artificially sweetened ham we're used to, it's just a big hunk of organically-fed pig that's been sitting in a barrel of salt for a few years. Even bread in America has high fructose corn syrup in it. Now, most of the food in Spain except for the ham, seafood and churros is bordering on objectively disgusting, but everyone I saw over there is very thin.

        • by Kohath (38547) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:27PM (#21425811)
          Now, most of the food in Spain except for the ham, seafood and churros is bordering on objectively disgusting, but everyone I saw over there is very thin.

          What do you mean "but"?

          If most food were "bordering on objectively disgusting" in the US, folks would eat less of it and be thinner.

          I think this is the #1 cause of obesity. Our food is damn tasty by any standard. And even though tastes differ, there's something great for everyone. Eating food in the US is a positive experience beyond satisfying hunger. So people eat it past the point where they are hungry for it. And they get fat.
      • by gnuman99 (746007) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:36PM (#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]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheMadcapZ (868196)
      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 h
      • Re:Ugh... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:02PM (#21425435)
        You're like every customer who calls into customer support: they know the symptoms, are vaguely aware of the underpinnings of the machine and are absolutely convinced they know what the issue is.

        Do yourself a favor, and treat your next interaction with your doctor like a call with tech support: understand that they know more about how the system is supposed to work than you, understand that you know more about how your system works than them, transfer that knowledge to them, and be patient while they wade through the standard troubleshooting steps (did you reboot your machine? do you get enough sleep/vitamins?).

        You'll actually have a chance of getting some use out of them, and live a better life.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheMadcapZ (868196)
          This is a good scenario on how it is supposed to work, but most doctors spend so little time with a patient that they do not listen to you, they assume they are always right. It is more profitable for a doctor to kick business towards a drug company than it is to actually help cure you of what is causing your symptoms. I wish it worked as you describe. maybe there are a few doctors out there that still help people, I wish I had found one.
    • Re:Ugh... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rucs_hack (784150) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:36PM (#21424925)
      Not more of this low-carb propaganda bullshit

      What annoys me is low carb stuff tastes bad, so they up the salt content, or put more of other things that improve the taste but make it bad for you in other ways.

      Eating healthy means cooking a lot of your own food from ingredients, not pre-packaged food, and getting exercise every day. Exercise is an important part of a healthy diet, you digest food better if your body isn't always being carried around everywhere by cars or sat in chairs.

      Eating healthy doesn't even mean low fat, it can involve fat, suger, salt, anything, provided you eat reasonably, are aware of what your eating (meaning you cook a lot of it yourself) and get that exercise.
    • Yes and no. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Valdrax (32670) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:40PM (#21424983)

      Calories make you fat, regardless of whether they come from fat, sugars, or starches.

      This is absolutely true. You can't dispute the fact of this statement taken in isolation. In isolation.

      However, it's a fine example of blinding yourself to the causes. The questions at the heart of the debate between low-carb and low-fat diet proponents are the following:
      1. Does eating certain types of food allow for the intake of more calories before being satisfied? (e.g. Pork vs. chicken; fruit vs. Twinkies)
      2. Do certain foods increase hunger? (i.e. Effects on insulin and other hormones)
      3. Do certain foods have other health issues than weight? (e.g. Saturated vs. unsaturated fat; sugar-intake & diabetes.)

      So just saying calories are calories is like saying BTUs are BTUs and putting heating oil in your gas tank in the hopes of getting better MPG.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vertinox (846076)
      Calories make you fat, regardless of whether they come from fat, sugars, or starches.

      It depends on your bodies reaction. If you have two men who have been without food for 4 weeks and you feed on 1000 calories of butter and the other 1000 calories of whole wheat bread, the one who ate butter will most likley die of glycemic shock.

      Although, we are talking about the opposite (of having too much food all the time) in which eating 1000 calories of butter will be processed completely different than eating 1000 c
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bitt3n (941736)

      Calories make you fat, regardless of whether they come from fat, sugars, or starches.
      Not if they come from... YOUR OWN ARM. (this diet program is patent pending)
  • Taubes is a quack. (Score:5, Informative)

    by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:10PM (#21424397) Homepage Journal
    From personal, scientifically-measurable experience, I can tell you that gaining and losing weight isn't a matter of 'good calories' or 'bad calories'. It's a matter of calories. Burn more calories than you consume over a period of time, and you will lose weight. Burn fewer calories than you consume over a period of time, and you will gain weight. Yes, it's that simple. I suggest you all put down this claptrap, and read The Hacker's Diet [fourmilab.ch] by former AutoCAD developer and AutoDesk VP John Walker. It's done wonders for me.
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:16PM (#21424523) Journal

      It's done wonders for me.
      I think that's the number one problem with diet plans these days. People assume that since it worked for them it will work for everyone else. I don't think that's the case.

      To answer the questions of the summary, I don't think it will ever be an untainted science so long as the government, businesses & religion stick their noses in it. Couple that with the difficulty of applying the scientific method to humans (average life span of 75 years and ethical problems) and I think you'll see why medicine is a 'non-science.'

      Patents, legislation & belief in what is good for you are what ruin medicine. Look at all the Hindu medicine that was ignored by the West for the longest time because it was ... well, Hindu.

      Medicine will continue to be a non-science no matter how hard the community tries. The public's assumptions and beliefs that "Since I can eat McDonald's every day and be thin, everyone should be able to" merely exacerbates the situation.

      I eat whatever I feel like and I'm in great shape. This is not the case with the majority of Americans.
      • by bigdavex (155746) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:21PM (#21424623)

        I eat whatever I feel like and I'm in great shape. This is not the case with the majority of Americans.

        What do you like to eat?
      • by raddan (519638) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:56PM (#21425317)

        Medicine will continue to be a non-science no matter how hard the community tries.
        This is untrue. While there are many questions which science is ill prepared to investigate, this is not one of them. Science cannot answer questions about metaphysics, mysticism, and so on, because those subjects have nothing for the tools of science (thesis, antithesis, and synthesis) to work on.

        Medicine is complex. But that doesn't stop or discourage scientists. The world is complex. Science has always, and will always, face this issue. Medicine is a perfect subject for the application of science. Do physicists give up because certain things are not directly observable? Those working in public health have to work with what they're given.

        I would much rather my doctor give me advice based on years of compounded peer-reviewed research than an opinion based on anecdote. Because, without science-- that's what you're talking about.
  • I've been saying this for years. Eating does not make you fat. When people disagree, I say, "Sure, what could the skinny guy know about staying thin?" In a single meal, I'll eat a large Domino's Pizza, or about 4 McDonald's hamburgers.
  • by curunir (98273) * on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:12PM (#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 @02:15PM (#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.
  • moderation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@devi n m oore.com> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:15PM (#21424503) Homepage Journal
    what about eating in moderation with exercise? Why does it have to be so extreme, i.e. no sugar, no fat, "no" something?
    The recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes per day -- it's actually a fair amount, if you're biking or jogging 30 minutes per day, and eating in moderation, i.e. let's say within the FDA guidelines for diet, and you're still overweight, then you might have a medical need for weight treatment. Otherwise, try all of those things first.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338)
      Well, making a broad generalization, is because people

      A) want miracle solutions, and

      B) preferrably ones that require less effort on their side, and

      C) want more to look like they're doing something, than to actually do something. (The incompetent manager syndrome.)

      So between something like (I) just eat less calories than you use, and something like (II) just stop eating bread, the latter will win on all accounts.

      The latter requires less discipline and willpower, less counting, less putting up with meals that
  • strawman logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mugnyte (203225) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:17PM (#21424535) Journal
    "For 50 years, the advice on dieting has been very clear..."

      Um, hardly. This kind of sentence attempt to draw the reader into a sense of agreement from their most-remembered anecdotes so that the rest of the premise is seen as new. But in reality, fad dieting advice is all over the map and has been since it was part of pop culture, which goes back a *long* way. Spoonful of mercury, anyone?

      The only good dieting advice has been through a good understand of one's own body. Allergies, lifestyle, location, education, economics, etc all play roles in what chemicals you put in your and how you burn energy.

      This book's position is just another in the lineup of positions taken about the human GI system and energy usage. There are many strategies, both workable and not. Unless you know yourself well, no change is a worthwhile change - its all so much guessing.

      Additionally, one has to ask the philosophical question...is the goal to eat yummy/available food or live [potentially] longer lives? There's no one answer, really.

  • by bigdavex (155746) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:17PM (#21424541)

    In fact, according to Mr. Taubes, everything the medical profession advocates, in terms of eating and exercise, is at best a waste of time, and at worst, may actually be killing us. He says it isn't fat we should be worrying about, but instead carbohydrates, especially white flour and white sugar.

    OK, who doesn't recommend whole grains and avoiding sweets for overweight people? The quacks are all over the place, but I think we know (and have known) that vegetables & whole grains are the way to go.
    • by Budenny (888916) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:40PM (#21424977)
      Probably not whole grains. That whole grains are better for you is a myth. No cultures with a tradition of long lived good health eat wheat or rice bran - or any non soluble bran. They feed it to animals and eat the animals. Also, such cultures treat soy with great wariness and respect. This too they feed to animals, unless fermented and aged, and even then they eat it in very small quantities.

      The reason is partly phytates, and partly irritation of the bowels, and partly plant estrogens. Wheat bran is non soluble and so is an irritant to the bowel. But because of phytates, it prevents the absorption of minerals. The plant hormones in soy are just plain bad for you. Brown rice is lower in delivered nutrition than polished. It is not how much nutrients a product contains. Its how much it delivers to you when you eat it.

      We are embarked on a huge uncontrolled experiment in nutrition, and one undertaken without the slightest evidence in its favor. We started out with a diet which obtained about one third of its calories from saturated fats, about one third from protein, and one third from partly refined carbs, generally all eaten together with a variety of vegetables. Curiously enough, heart disease was rather low. I say partially refined - the bread before the invention of modern industrial baking was sourdough long fermented and slow risen, and was made from high extraction but not whole wheat flour. It was chewy, low GI and very digestible. These foods were eaten slowly in sociable meals. They were not wolfed down on the way from one place to another, or held in one hand while typing with the other.

      We moved from this to a diet which substituted refined and often hydrogenated vegetable oil, high in polyunsaturates, for the animal fat. We then added to this recently the most industrialized kind of processed food there is: soy 'milk' and meal of various kinds. This too raised the proportion of vegetable oil in the diet. We then had a campaign to lower total fat consumption, which led us to a high carbohydrate diet, but high in those same vegetable oils.

      Our last state was worse than our first. Nothing in our evolutionary history has prepared us for such a diet. Its consequences are continual hunger, over eating, endless snacks, obesity, and degenerative diseases.

      What do we need to do? Go back to the traditional comfortably off working family diets of about 1900. Meat and two vegetables, high extraction sourdough bread in liberal quantities, oatmeal, full fat milk, butter, cheese, fish in moderation. Minimal amounts of vegetable oil, minimal amounts of sweets. Pastry made, if one has to eat pastry, with suet. No snacks.

      Women are the especial victims of our current dietary mania and the diet industry. If we could do one thing to improve the health of society, it would be to abolish dieting, dieting books, and conversations about dieting and one's weight. Couple that with only eating at mealtimes, cooking only real food from scratch, using ingredients available in 1910, and we would all be infinitely better off.

      Read "Nourishing Traditions." It will change your life.
  • by Eberlin (570874) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:17PM (#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 @02:19PM (#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 spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:21PM (#21424617)

    Calories in greater than calories out => gain weight.
    Calories in less than calories out => lose weight.

    At least, that's how I thought it worked. I decided late last year, as a new years resolution, to start Operation Flab. My weight had crept up, ours is not a physically active field to begin with, and middle age (I'm 46) didn't help.

    I've made some healthier choices in my diet, cut back on portions, exercise vigorously 3 times a week, and have lost significant weight. I feel 100% better. There is no magic: I didn't gain it overnight, and I'm not going to lose it overnight either. Heroics never work, because too great a lifestyle/diet change will never last.

    I didn't bother with a health club membership or anything like that. My sole expense was an MP3 player.

    ...laura

  • geeze (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:22PM (#21424649) Homepage
    So, has medicine become a non-science? Is it mostly a non-science? Somewhat?

    You think this article is about "medicine" in general? This is about a tiny branch of medicine dealing with nutrition and public health.
  • by rodentia (102779) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:23PM (#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 physicsboy500 (645835) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:24PM (#21424685)
    I have a big gripe with saying the "medical community" or stereotyping the entire medical field as saying diet and exercise is the only component to obesity.
    FTA:

    For the last thirty years, medical advice on obesity has been very clear. Eat less and exercise. But what if that was all wrong, a big fat lie, as Gary Taubes would put it?
    or

    In fact, according to Mr. Taubes, everything the medical profession advocates, in terms of eating and exercise, is at best a waste of time, and at worst, may actually be killing us.
    Of course medical advice is clear. Exercise does make you healthier and stronger. It helps your immune system and metabolism. It is true that you should only exercise the amount you are able, and that over-exercising can put added and unnecessary strain on important organs which can be dangerous. One thing that the medical field is learning though is that a good portion of your body shape is due simply to genetics. The "medical community" has not been caught up and derailed by the "diet and exercise" bandwagon. They are currently doing more and more research into the amount we are affected by our own genes.

    There are some doctors who do not have the absolute latest information and they will sometimes claim that diet and exercise are the only thing that is making someone larger and there are (of course) a few scam artists trying to make a buck off the "simple little pill" or "this is the only piece of equipment you need to be thin" commercials and insatiably people will fall for it.

    The point is, the medical field is right in giving this person that advice. He should eat less, he should exercise. It WILL make him healthier. It may not make him look like Brad Pitt, and he (probably) always be larger than normal, but just because a component of obesity is genetics does not mean everything to do with obesity is genetics. It also does not mean the "medical community" is stuck in the stone age with "non science."
  • by Burning1 (204959) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:33PM (#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 @02:35PM (#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
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by benj_e (614605)

      He's not alone in his conclusions that the diet being feed to us (pardon the pun) is wrong. There was an article in the NY Times in October stating this as well. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/science/09tier.html?ei=5124&en=67642ef2330f51af&ex=1349668800&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink&pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]

      I read Men's Health magazine and they have presented a number of articles on the topic

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DCheesi (150068)

      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.

      This first part is pretty well accepted these days...

      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 a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drooling-dog (189103)

      However, he provides and discusses a solid body of relevant and eminently respectable (Lancet, JAMA, NEJM, etc..) citations to support his claim.

      Keep in mind, though, that he cherry-picks his evidence to an extent that would never pass peer-review itself. He's also misrepresented quite a few of his sources to the point where they're too angry to talk to him anymore.

      I wouldn't dismiss everything he says out of hand, but it's important to note what the weight of the available evidence says, and not just the 5% of it that he cites (sometimes wrongly) in support of his thesis. Unfortunately, those seeking a simple classification of all foods into unequ

  • by discontinuity (792010) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:39PM (#21424969)

    Here's a link to an article by Taubes that originally ran in 2002, and sounds like it was the seed for this book.

    "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?"
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F04E2D61F3EF934A35754C0A9649C8B63

    It's long for a NYTimes article, but it's an interesting read. I'm sure the book updates much of the data.

  • by cartman (18204) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:42PM (#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.

  • Somewhat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ahoehn (301327) <andrew@hoe.OOOhn minus threevowels> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:46PM (#21425083) Homepage
    Is medicine science? Sometimes.

    Being married to a medical student who's going through a year of trying different specialties has been very illuminating. Some specialties, like pathology, are almost entirely scientific. Others, like orthopedics are largely mechanical, as are most surgical specialties. Specialties like family practice and pediatrics involve a fair bit of science, but also depend heavily on personal interactions. And of course every physician, just like every person, is subject to their bias.

    My wife and her fellow medical students frequently talk about how for your first two years of medical school you're taught science, and for your last two years of medical school you're taken through the hospital and told how everything you just learned is useless.

    If medicine could be reduced to a set of scientific rules, it could be practiced by robots. Until that happens, we're stuck with our un-scientific doctors.
  • by igotmybfg (525391) <`slashdot' `at' `danielthompson.net'> on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:49PM (#21425151) Homepage

    Nor is he a research scientist. He is an author, and his goal seems to be to sell books, not to add anything to the scientific community.

    I have found that if I eat more calories than I burn, I lose weight (and vice versa!), no matter what kind of calories they are. When I go on long hiking trips, or field exercises with my military unit, I'm very active and burning more calories than I take in, and I lose weight. Conversely, when I sit at home for a week and eat turkey and watch football, I gain weight.

    Incidentally, if you have a problem with your plumbing, then it's clear that an auto mechanic probably won't be able to give you good advice; if you have a problem with your plumbing, you should talk to a plumber. In the same way, if you want information about your body, you should probably get it from your doctor, rather than some random person who had a Bright Idea and wrote a book about it.

  • by tfoss (203340) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:50PM (#21425183)
    There was a spat [reason.com] in Reason years ago about exactly this.

    -Ted
  • by UserChrisCanter4 (464072) * on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @02:58PM (#21425349)
    Medicine is a non-science? Wow. I whole heartedly invite anyone who believes that line to go take a gander at any clinical trial design for any drug, device, or procedure.

    As for the book, I haven't read it but I did read both the Amazon and boingboing summary and listen to the podcast. Taubes main points seem to be:

    1. Replacing fat with starch is a bad idea
    2. High fat diets don't have as much of an impact on cholesterol counts as we believe and that triglyceride levels are a better indicator of heart disease risks
    3. Exercise isn't as good an idea for weight loss as we might think. (Because people might consume more calories afterward than they expended)
    4. Atkins is a great diet plan.

    Look, you don't sell a diet book or any book titled, "Stop eating so much, jackass!" What does sell well are systems that help us accomplish that goal and books that tell us why what we're doing is wrong.

    Put simply, excess calories make you fat; it's basic thermodynamics and can be (and has been) proven with the simplest of experiments. It is easier to eat excess calories in a diet high in carbohydrates for a number of reasons. For many people, cutting those excess carbohydrates needs to happen because they aren't eating a proper diet. I've seen studies that indicate that the average American eats 3800 Calories in a day, and I'm sorry, but most of us aren't doing that with baked potatoes, whole-grain bread, or pasta - we're getting there with coke, chocolate, "coffee" drinks that might once have contained a coffee bean, and candy.

    If you need a book to tell you to remove carbs before you'll start watching how much you eat, then I hope you buy that book now. If you need to be on a partcular diet scheme to force you to check the caloric value on a box of pre-packaged food, then I hope you start that diet now. If you want to build a strawman based on decades old medical advice taken out of context of what has been the constant recommendation for a balanced diet with a quantity of food suited for your activity level, then please, write that book as long as it helps people lose weight.

    While there is some variance from person to person, a diet book that was two pages long could easily satisfy nearly everyone on earth. It would essentially say:
    1. Burn the amount of Calories that you take in.
    2. Guess what? You're probably eating way more Calories than you think you are.
    3. Don't believe us? Track what you eat everyday for a week. Yes, that includes snacks. Yes, that includes really measuring how much of a given food you ate.
    4. See, we told you you ate too much.
    5. Stop drinking your Calories, dammit! Coke doesn't fill you up at all, but it's an easy 10% of your daily intake per glass.
    6. If you sit around all day, non-stop, then you're going to need to cut back more. If you want to eat more, go get some exercise.
    7. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
    8. By the way, you'll probably start using fewer Calories as you get older. If you find this difficult to follow, start again at step one.
  • by russ1337 (938915) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:03PM (#21425449)
    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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dekortage (697532)

      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

  • Here's the rebuttal (Score:3, Informative)

    by rrohbeck (944847) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:43PM (#21426117)
    Several scientists are furious about the way Taubes mis-quoted them and there's a lot of science that says he's simply wrong:
    http://www.reason.com/news/show/28714.html [reason.com]

    My hypothesis: He simply sold out. Book contracts, maybe consulting with Atkins & co...
  • Fruit, Meat, Fat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrKaos (858439) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:51PM (#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 rickb928 (945187) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @03:51PM (#21426239) Homepage Journal
    1. Muscle must be fed. Fat doesn't. Strength training builds muscle, which if nothing else consumes calories all the time, just much less at rest.

    2. What goes in must either be used or go out. If I eat 6 pounds of food a week, and manage to consume 3 pounds of that as energy, eliminating 3 pounds as indegestible waste (you know what I mean), I neither gain or lose. If I work harder, or replace fat with muscle, I need more energy. It comes from somewhere.

    3. If I eat less, I will eventually lose weight. The key word is 'eventually'.

    4. If I work more, and don't change my diet, I will eventually lose weight.

    5. The equation is, eat less, work more, and be patient. My body may well try to hoard resources in response to the apparent famine or starvation of not so much food.

    6. Keep a balanced diet. Not feeding your body nutrients, especially calcium and trace elements, is very bad.

    7. Portion control. Just do it.

    8. Keep at it. Patience.

    9. Drink plenty of water.

    10. Read items 1-9 regularly and heed.
  • by schweini (607711) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:24PM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by javilon (99157)
      Actually everybody knows that in soviet Russia vodka is ok, but whiskey makes you fat...
  • The model, from BFFM (Score:3, Informative)

    by steveha (103154) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @04:35PM (#21426987) Homepage
    Here is a model of how the human body works with respect to fat gain and fat loss. This is my summary of my understanding of the material in a book called Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle [burnthefat.com] by a pro bodybuilder named Tom Venuto.

    Your body is designed to keep you alive, even in hard times when it's difficult to get enough food. Thus, if you simply cut your calories back (say, to 1200 kCal per day) your body will store fat at every chance it gets. If you are really only eating 1200 kCal per day, yet burning more than that, you must burn fat (and perhaps some good stuff like muscle) so you will lose weight. However, your body will store fat any chance it can, so if you eat extra you can gain fat, and once you stop the 1200 kCal per day regimen you are almost certain to gain fat. Worse, it is likely you lost muscle during the 1200 kCal per day regimen.

    So, the goal is for you to lose fat, without your keep-you-alive tricks kicking in and making your body stubbornly try to store fat. BFFM recommends multiple, smaller meals each day, rather than a few big ones. If you are eating every 3 hours, how can you be starving to death? Everything must be okay, so your body will let go of the fat. Also you need to get enough sleep, and try to avoid stress in general; stress is a signal that you are in hard times.

    Muscle is your friend for fat loss. Muscle burns calories 24/7, so having more muscle means your daily base calorie burn goes up. This paragraph is important, so feel free to read it again.

    The primary way to lose fat is through "cardio" exercise, aka aerobic exercise: running, bicycling, swimming, various gym machines like the elliptical or the stair climber, etc.

    Another good thing is to eat a diet that fires up your metabolism. Imagine for a second that you had an entire mouthful of glucose, and you swallowed it all. That will pass straight out of your stomach and go straight into your blood as blood sugar, so it's just about 100% efficient as a food. For fat loss, this is a bad thing. How about a mouth full of vegetable oil? Pretty darn easy to digest, and it will be easily stored as fat since it's fat to start out. Imagine instead you have a mouthful of lean protein (skinless chicken breast, if you eat meat; non-fat cottage cheese if you are vegetarian, say). First of all you will expend some effort chewing, and then your digestive system has to work very hard to tear apart the proteins and turn them into something that can pass into the blood stream. If I recall correctly, you can burn about 30% of the calories in a serving of lean protein, just in the effort it takes to digest it. So the bottom line rule here is: complex carbs, high fiber, and lean protein are much better than simple carbs, low fiber, and high fat foods. Corollary: if you want seconds of anything, let it be lean protein.

    So, BFFM tells you how to calculate a good portion size, so you don't eat too much. (If my instincts were good and I naturally took a good portion size, I'd probably not need a book like BFFM.) BFFM encourages multiple, smaller meals, with a high proportion of lean protein, and as much natural whole foods as possible (eat apples, not apple pie). BFFM encourages working out to increase lean muscle mass, plus cardio exercise to actively burn fat. If you do everything in the book, you will lose fat, unless you are one of the fraction-of-a-percent people who have a medical condition that keeps them fat all the time. (And if you are, you have probably figured that out by now.)

    Tom Venuto has nothing good to say about BMI. He points out that bodybuilders with less than six percent body fat might still have a high BMI, because muscle is heavy. Body fat percentage is the best indicator, and it's not that hard to get a useful measurement.

    He also has nothing good to say about Atkins. Carbs aren't your enemy; you need some. And the idea that you can eat as much fat as you want is just insane. You don't need to go into ketosis to lose fat, and it's not all t
  • by carlcmc (322350) on Tuesday November 20, 2007 @05:18PM (#21427609)
    He espouses the notion that lower cholesterol levels are not healthier. That statement is so much total bunk that it is on the order and level of other statements like "Smoking doesn't cause cancer" "The earth is flat" etc.

    Conclusive proven evidence shows that the lower your cholesterol or the more you *lower* your cholesterol, the lower the risk of heart disease related events etc. Not even worth our time to discuss. A frank waste of time and valuable intertubes!
  • by Fross (83754) on Wednesday November 21, 2007 @07:14AM (#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?

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