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Welcome all seeking refuge from low carb dogma!

“To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”
~ Charles Darwin (it's evolutionary baybeee!)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good Science Bad Science ~ Good Schtick Bad Schtick

Note:  This version slightly differs (only at the end beginning with italics) from my original post so I "bumped" the publish date and noted where I made a few changes.

So Jimmy Moore recently posted an interview with Gary Taube$:  Podcast HERE

I have much more to say about this interview, Taubes' most recent lecture and his upcoming book, but that will have to wait for another day.

What I am bothered by is Taubes continued trashing of the scientific community while basically admitting the same for himself (though not realizing it).

I would agree with Taubes that one of the problems with scientific research in general these days is the funding process/stream.  Been there, done that.  If you're a nobody with big ideas, good luck.  If you're a big name trying to get another MS or PhD thesis on some minor topic, it shouldn't be a problem.  There's ALWAYS a lag between funding, research and publication -- several years is more the norm than the exception here.  

But Taubes' premise is that scientists develop a "schtick" -- the PhD thesis or whatever puts them on the map -- that keeps them from ever correcting themselves or pursuing the research they obviously really want to do if only they were independently wealthy.  All the old science is golden because it was done by rich folks who funded their own work and didn't need to answer to anyone.  These were folks of high character and principle and beholden to no one.  I have one name for you on that note Gary:  Michael Bloomberg.

But Taubes goes on to lament that he really would like to get back to writing on other science (e.g. that which he has the background and qualifications to write about), but he has kids to put through college.   He rambles on and on about mistakes in GCBC as pertains to the whole G3P issue (again, I have a post in the hopper on this but have a bit more work on that before I'll publish it).  Mea culpa?  Hardly, IMCO.  For starters, he further laments not having a public forum on which to correct himself.  NONSENSE.  But he failed in 2007 in a far more critical manner than the scientists he lambastes do in publishing their research.  He was wrong, but won't acknowledge that this point is the absolute KEY to all of his theories on how fat miraculously accumulates irrespectively of calories.  He also keeps calling for metabolic ward studies to test his theories, when these WERE done long ago.  

No doubt the worst of his transgressions, to me, is that he claims that in 2007 (or in the intervening years of  writing the NYT & the book) the science of GlyNG was still rather vague and he presented only the current knowledge in GCBC.  Try again Gary.  The two papers I referenced in this post were to 2002 and 2003 REVIEW papers -- IOW papers that summarized older research, most or all of which predated even the NYT article.

The paragraph below has been edited slightly from the original after re-listening to the interview.

Open query to Gary Taubes:  Care to name names?  Who was this "biggest expert in the country" whom you consulted in prepping your book in 2007, the "smartest guy" around at the time, who vetted 3-4 versions of this section in your book to make sure it was accurate?  I doubt it was Hanson's group (AND YET ANY CURSORY LOOK INTO THE REFERENCES FROM THE 2003 PAPER WOULD HAVE LED YOU TO CONTACT THEM!!!).  And what 2008 paper did he inform you of to let you know all the textbooks (hint:  scientific research should perhaps begin with texts, but never end with them) were wrong?  Who is the English guy who confirmed you were wrong?  Newsholme?  And who, pray tell, are these anonymous two biophysicists who informed you that you were wrong on G3P, but supposedly said *it doesn't matter* because "insulin so fundamentally drives fat accumulation"?  Any reason why you painstakingly identify the authors of various statements in your book and lectures, but won't name names now????  (I know ;-) )


Yep.  Taube$ has his $cience and his $chtick.  Proven wrong on a key component of this theory, he's chosen to simply leave it out and hope insulin is enough to snow people.

If carbs drives insulin drives fat accumulation, then protein drives insulin drives fat accumulation.

(Or, consuming fat and/or carbs and/or even protein in chronic excess of energy needs does.)

30 comments:

LynMarie Daye said...

The two biophysicists intrigue me. AFAIK, it has never been shown experimentally that glyceroneogenesis is up-regulated in humans when eating a low carb diet, especially to a degree that could cause significant fat accumulation. Practically all the research in humans has focused on the role of glyceroneogenesis in fatty acid/triglyceride recycling during fasting. A speculative connection can be made between fasting & low carb dieting because of the hormonal similarities between the two, but nothing can be stated firmly. Did the biophysicists' computer model reveal that GlyNG can be significantly enhanced during low carb intake? Talking with them prompted GT to take that part out of his lecture so I'm thinking something along those lines was discussed. I don't think he'd feel compelled to do that if GlyNG occured only during fasting. Yep, I'm officially intrigued!

Juicebox said...

"He was wrong, but won't acknowledge that this point is the absolute KEY to all of his theories on how fat miraculously accumulates irrespectively of calories. He also keeps calling for metabolic ward studies to test his theories, when these WERE done long ago."

G3P is not the key to fat accumulation irrespective of calories. The key is fat deposition exceeding fat mobilization. The idea that dietary carbohydrates raise insulin levels, and chronically elevated insulin levels lead to fat accumulation and fat deposition exceeding fat mobilization can still hold true. G3P or GNG does not refute the hypothesis that we don't get fat because we overeat, rather we get fat because the carbs make us fat.

Also, what metabolic ward studies are you referring to? I was recently reading the Foster et al. (2010) study that cited three metabolic ward studies that were invoked to show that nutrient composition didn't affect weight, but they had serious limitations, and none of them were "overfeeding" studies, which is what Taubes is proposing.

James Krieger said...

*************
The idea that dietary carbohydrates raise insulin levels, and chronically elevated insulin levels lead to fat accumulation and fat deposition exceeding fat mobilization can still hold true.
****************

That idea doesn't hold true either. See my latest article series on insulin:

http://weightology.net/weightologyweekly/?cat=63

Juicebox said...

Hi James,

I read through 'part 1' of the series (Insulin...and undeserved bad reputation), and it was an interesting read. I'll hold any final conclusions until I read the entire series, but part 1 seemed to be mostly about what happens to a healthy individual after eating a meal.

I read a little while back Jacques Le Magnen's book 'Hunger,' in which he writes about an insulin secretion occurring in anticipation, or within a few seconds of eating a meal. This is before the glucose enters the bloodstream so it might explain why there is an insulin response to foods containing both "low-carbohydrate" (75g) and "high-carbohydrate" (125g), but it should be noted that the differences in insulin response were not statistically significant, and these are both high-carbohydrate meals, and with all of the carbohydrate coming from glucose syrup, the loose equivalent of consuming 60 oz. and 100 oz. of coca-cola, respectively, in 10 minutes, the fact that one group was also consuming a bunch of protein along with it becomes almost irrelevant in terms of insulin response.

Also, and I apologize since I haven't finished your series and perhaps you explain it, but the issue with the overweight and obese, according to Taubes, would be abnormally chronic elevated levels of insulin aiding weight gain, who may be represented in your graph of the lean vs. the obese with excessive insulin secretion due possibly to insulin resistance.

I'm wondering what your take is on how people become insulin resistant and whether insulin resistance/hyperinsulinemia is a factor in weight gain (cause, effect, no association)?

CarbSane said...

Hi Juicebox! Welcome to my blog. I don't have time at the moment to address your first post, but I've posted quite a few posts on the development of IR. You can use my "labels" to view all of them, but perhaps this one is a good place to start: Progression of Insulin Resistance or this one. Be sure to check out LynMarie's post I linked to in that last link entitled "Fat Fails First?"

CarbSane said...

LM, reading your comment prompted me to re-listen to the interview (around the 42 min mark) and alter my post slightly. I'm intrigued about ALL the names, and the fact that at least two lectures (2009 Duke and the one you linked to from earlier this year in the G v T post) postdated his being made aware of his incorrectness.

Juicebox said...

Hi CarbSane,

I will check out the links.

I may be totally wrong, and I don't speak for Taubes, but I think the "biggest expert" he was referring to is Richard Hanson. I think the paper he was referring to was "Reassessing triglyceride synthesis in adipose tissue" (pdf) (Nye et al., 2008 - includes Hanson as an author) - and there was a similar thesis that you should find if you do a google search for "Nye et al., 2008 glyceroneogenesis" which includes a reference of a computational model by Kim et al. (2008).

I think if you contact Taubes he would probably answer these questions for you.

Hope this helps.

Juicebox said...

My comment isn't appearing, but I think I have a good idea of the people you're asking about in your open query...

Juicebox said...

I think the expert he's referring to is Richard Hanson.

I think the paper he was referring to was "Reassessing triglyceride synthesis in adipose tissue" (Nye et al., 2008).

There is also a thesis you can find online entitled "ASSESSING THE ROLE OF GLYCERONEOGENESIS IN TRIGLYCERIDE METABOLISM," by Nye - and in the paper, there is a reference to a computational model of adipose tissue metabolism, entitled "A computational model of adipose tissue metabolism: Evidence for intracellular compartmentation and differential activation of lipases" by Kim et al.

I'm not sure what you're implying about knowing why Taubes didn't mention the names of the authors, but I think if you contact Taubes he will provide you with the answers you're looking for.

LynMarie Daye said...

Juicebox - I was thinking it's possible GT was referring to Richard Hanson (who coincidentally is the subject of my latest blog post)but I find it very difficult to believe Hanson would have told GT his section in GCBC on G3P was spot-on. I would think Hanson would disagree vehemently with the idea that dietary carbs are an absolute requirement for triglyceride synthesis, although I could imagine him stating that they may be an absolute requirement for creating enough triglycerides to become obese. Maybe Hanson agreed that it was OK to let the technicality of glyceroneogenesis slide since he believed at the time that it wasn't involved obesity? It's possible I guess.

And I think you may be right about the Nye thesis. Good find!! I'm embarrassed to say I think I've seen it. I guess I didn't put two & two together... :`O

CarbSane said...

I agree with LynMarie. Read Reshef 2003 paper -- Hanson is an author on that. These authors play musical chairs in terms of order of acknowledgement on articles. Juicebox, I've seen that thesis paper and probably read most of this group's work. Taubes referenced the 2003 paper in GCBC. I find it hard to believe any author of that paper would have told Taubes it was accurate, let alone read 3 to 4 versions of it to get to that one as "accurate".

Taubes is a name dropper extraordinaire. Why not drop those names now??? I don't think he wants people to delve further, let alone us lowly bloggers that he sneered at in that interview.

Another major reference in GCBC as regards this issue does not jive with what he says in the book either.

CarbSane said...

@LynMarie:

"AFAIK, it has never been shown experimentally that glyceroneogenesis is up-regulated in humans when eating a low carb diet, especially to a degree that could cause significant fat accumulation. Practically all the research in humans has focused on the role of glyceroneogenesis in fatty acid/triglyceride recycling during fasting. A speculative connection can be made between fasting & low carb dieting because of the hormonal similarities between the two, but nothing can be stated firmly."

I would say that it would be highly unlikely that GlyNG is NOT upregulated under LC feeding conditions. If every other fasting mechanism kicks in with carb deprivation, I see no reason this related pathway wouldn't be.

There's a fat overfeeding study that is widely cited as proving some portions of the so-called metabolic advantage theory. As I recall the subjects consumed up to like 600g fat/day in the context of ~150g carbs/day. Although the participants didn't gain weight by a strict calorie calculation (they got sweaty at the high levels of fat intake indicating that at some point of severe overconsumption futile cycling may play a role in wasting excessively excessive caloric intake), they did gain considerable weight. The 150g carb is in line with basic brain glucose requirements, and I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that most of the dietary carb was directed towards this purpose and wasn't the major source of the much needed G3P to esterify all that fat consumed. We know fat cells can't make it from the glycerol itself, so that pretty much leaves GlyNG.

Sorta seems to me that the body makes glucose when it needs it if it doesn't get it externally. Seems equally logical that the body makes the G3P it needs to deal with both dietary fat ingestion and the essential triglyceride/fatty acid cycle. Got a lot of fatty acids around, make the G3P to store them. What say you?

CarbSane said...

@Juicebox:

"G3P is not the key to fat accumulation irrespective of calories. The key is fat deposition exceeding fat mobilization. The idea that dietary carbohydrates raise insulin levels, and chronically elevated insulin levels lead to fat accumulation and fat deposition exceeding fat mobilization can still hold true. G3P or GNG does not refute the hypothesis that we don't get fat because we overeat, rather we get fat because the carbs make us fat."

Re-read Chapter 22 in GCBC: The Carbohydrate Hypothesis II: Insulin

G3P WAS integral in the original hypothesis, and all we have to fall back on now is Taubes' assertions that two unnamed biophysicists now think it doesn't matter because the insulin part is so strong.

Taubes likes to confuse transient insulin spikes due to insulin-stimulating dietary intake with chronic high basal insulin. Basal insulin correlates with one's degree of adiposity and the evidence points the arrow of causality from obesity --> hyperinsulinemia rather than the other way around. Chronic hyperinsulinemia is related to insulin resistance, that can be induced by poor diet, but it is not the result of eating a lot of carbs absent other complicating factors. If you read further in my blog and linked sources, I think you'll find it hard to conclude that insulin RESISTANCE is caused by carbs per se.

Joe Def said...

Gary Taubes changed my life. He exposed most U.S. health science as bad science (or fraud). One moment, I think obesity is about "positive caloric balance", and after one Taubes lecture (and book), I'm awoken from a trace (and mad as hell at the corporatocracy and its disinformation flood).

But, just as we see any number of counter-examples to the theory of positive caloric balance, there are any number of counter-examples to Taubes' carbs cause obesity theory. Basically, until the 20th century, few got fat, regardless of what they ate, high carb diet or not.

The Chinese eat 70% carbs, and unless they do it S.A.D. style (i.e., eat wheat and vegetable oils), they don't get fat apparently (http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/09/02/the-china-study-wheat-and-heart-disease-oh-my/).

Wheat is inflammatory for most people, just as vegetable oils (which are fats, duh). Fructose may be worse than either, but the Chinese are not swigging Cokes and eating grapes all day to exceed the body's threshold. Truly, the most toxic foods are carbs (in the Food, Inc. world), which gives an edge to low-carb diets.

The manufactured food staples and fruits bred for high sugar/fructose tend to be treated by the body as an infection and/or cause chronic infections. Often obesity results (but it might "just" be cancer or any autoimmune disease). Missing that entire point is the major flaw in Taubes' message. And, if he is wrong in the large, he must be technically wrong in the small.

Jimmy Moore said...

Hey CarbSane,

I'm intrigued by your comments about Gary Taubes and your belief that he is merely motivated by dollars and not the science. Would you like to come on my podcast show to talk about this? I think it would be quite illuminating to my listeners to hear an alternative viewpoint. E-mail me at livinlowcarbman@charter.net and we'll work out the details. :)

LynMarie Daye said...

Wow, that would be wonderful! You better do it CarbSane or I won't like you anymore! (just kidding!)

And Jimmy if you're reading this, have you ever tried to get Stargazey from the Low Carb 4 U blog? She had a series of posts a while back on blood sugar issues and low carb in the 50+ age group that would be interesting to discuss.

CarbSane said...

Hey Jimmy! I'm intrigued by your offer. I have some concerns but will email you later today to see if those can be worked out.

The more I delve into this topic the more I am convinced that Taubes knew substantial portions of GCBC were wrong (as he now admits) prior to the publication of the book. This is at the root of my opinion that his judgement is clouded by financial interests. That opinion is not up for debate.

CarbSane said...

Sorry Joe Def! Somehow your comment initially slipped past my notifier :( So first off, welcome to my blog and thank you for reading and offering up your comments.

I guess firstly I would have to take issue with the notion that carbs are truly the most toxic foods from "Food, Inc." Umm.... list such foods. I can see the likely culprits containing carbs, but a fair dose of fats and other chemicals to boot.

"just as we see any number of counter-examples to the theory of positive caloric balance, there are any number of counter-examples to Taubes' carbs cause obesity theory.


I've yet to see a counter-example to the theory of positive caloric balance, while there are millions of counter-examples to Taubes' theories.

Part of the problem is that Taubes sets up a strawman as regards caloric balance. Nobody ever said that the two sides of the equation were independent. They are dependent. But compensatory changes in one in response to the other are not without limits.

If we lock an obese person away and feed them 1000 cal/day of a high carb diet for a year, they WILL lose fat.

It sounds like you and I agree on Taubes but you still credit him for exposing the evil food industry? I'm having a hard time reconciling the first part of your comment with the rest of it.

I'm inclined to believe that for the most part, the food suppliers give us what we want. Surely subsidies and such have influenced the mix (and I wish the government would get the hell out of all of this), but if our society didn't gobble the crap up, the suppliers would stop making it.

Joe Def said...

CarbSane: Thanks for your welcome and considered reply (and great site).

Re: "list such foods". My most toxic (to fat metabolism anyhow) are grains (especially wheat), legumes (especially soy), fructose (especially HFCS), and vegetable oils. The many other darlings of Food, Inc (for flavoring or shelf-life) may be more toxic in some sense (e.g., more carcinogenic), but eliminating carbs knocks out three of the "big four" above, and often promotes weight loss.


Re: "positive caloric balance". If obesity is caused by gluttony and sloth, we would expect that calories are very correlated with obesity/BMI, but the correlation is weak. There are surely better examples, but from this excellent China Study analysis (http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/09/02/the-china-study-wheat-and-heart-disease-oh-my/), "So once again, we’ve got a paradox: The wheat eaters are consuming lower or average levels of calories, doing more physical labor, and yet… they’re fatter."

Largely, I'm convinced Paul Jaminet (http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=606) has obesity perfectly nailed as caused by "food toxins, malnutrition, and infections". The minutiae of fat storage do not matter, in some sense, particularly if that leads to the simplistic conclusion that carbs ==> insulin ==> obesity. Rather, it is manufactured foods (and/or other crap) ==> disease/dysregluation ==> (often) obesity.

The obese might eat more, but the obese also likely have impaired guts (due to toxins or infections) or poor diets (e.g., the wheat centric, USDA recommended diet). So, to absorb enough nutrients, many are driven to the overeat. This is not gluttony (a human frailty), but basic survival instinct. Overeating may be positively correlated to obesity, but overeating is not driving obesity.


Re: "if our society didn't gobble the crap up, the suppliers would stop making it." That is truly blaming the victims of massive disinformation campaigns. A majority of people changed their diets to be more in line with "eating healthy". The corporatocracy says eat whole grains until they come out of your ears, drink only skim milk, avoid saturated fat, and go to the gym more. Compliance is ever increasing (with ever more negative results). And some non-compliance is largely due to wishy-washy, conflicting advice; the diabetes promoting America Diabetes Association preaches "your body doesn’t care if the extra food comes from cookies or beef" (http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/sweeteners-and-desserts.html). Say anything to peddle insulin, I guess.

Even if you start doubting your education/doctor/nutritionist/government when eating "healthy" causes your heart disease, just hope you don't stumble onto http://www.vegsource.com/ or some other even more moronic nutrition dogma. The Internet is a dangerous place.
As http://freetheanimal.com/2010/10/the-us-surgeon-general-regina-benjamin-is-a-caricature-of-fat-america.html says,
"it's so difficult and unlikely for people to get sound health, fat loss and exercise advice."

Alex Chernavsky said...

I know nothing about G3P metabolism, etc.  But this part is exactly right: "scientists develop a 'schtick' -- the PhD thesis or whatever puts them on the map -- that keeps them from ever correcting themselves..."

The same thing happens with psychopharmacology research, as described (in fascinating detail) by Robert Whitaker in his recent book, Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America.

CarbSane said...

@ Alex: I expressed some agreement with this notion, but I don't believe the vast majority of research scientists out there are rigging their research to draw knowingly wrong conclusions if their results differ from their hypotheses. Taubes seems to use this "schtick" defense to ignore most of the research post mid-60's. He prefers to rely on outdated research that has been proven flawed with the advent of too much technology for most to even wrap their heads around. All the while claiming (listen to the interview) that he's a victim of the same thing he accuses the scientists of. GCBC is and was Taubes' money-schtick. It is my opinion that he has let that cloud his judgment when he's confronted with evidence that counters his theories. I'm sure he received an advance to write his upcoming book whereas he lamented in the interview whether or not anyone would pay for him to research other topics or correct the (many) errors in GCBC.

Thanks for your input Alex & welcome :)

Alex Chernavsky said...

CarbSane: I'm sure that very few scientists knowingly rig their research or consciously draw incorrect conclusions. Usually, there is no malicious intent. Psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson wrote a book called, Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts about the ways that people can commit all kinds of horrible misdeeds while still maintaining a clear conscience.

Joe Def said...

CarbSane: Of interest, is "In the face of contradictory evidence: Report of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee" (http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/PIIS0899900710002893). They present evidence of ever increasing compliance to dietary guidelines. It offers a caloric balance paradox, "Adult women on average consume at the lowest end of the recommended calorie range and yet are the most overweight/obese".

I'd suggest the modern woman's toxic bagel and fruit, low-fat, low calorie diet causes obesity along the lines of
http://thehealthyskeptic.org/the-autoimmune-inflammatory-model-of-diabesity.

CarbSane said...

Joe, I've read part of that article and I'm disappointed in what comes across as bias and sloppiness in the analysis. (PLEASE, nobody take that comment to be supportive of the dietary guidelines!).

Adult women would presumably include those who have gone through menopause with it's concurrent reduction in TDEE if nothing is done to counter that. (I have a post or two in the hopper on this topic). This population would also contain the highest proportion of perennial dieters (yo yo) and this is known to suppress metabolic rate. I don't see this to be a paradox at all or inconsistent with calorie balance. I'll check out that autoimmune-inflammatory post soon. I've been on a bit of an inflammation research kick of late so this is timely. Thanks!

CarbSane said...

{I chopped down my quotations of what you wrote to keep the HTML/characters within limits)

Re: "list such foods"....loss.

You make a good point here! I tend to believe that many of the "miracle" stories I hear on LC forums associated with eliminating carbs are due to having eliminated something toxic to the person. And many of those who insist they must eat VL or ZC because one bite of something causes them to gain several pounds are likely having an allergic reaction to that toxin. No doubt wheat is a toxin for many people. Also, I'm convinced that antibiotic abuse and/or the prevalence of NSAID's has contributed to the increase in gluten intolerance.


Re: "positive caloric balance". they’re fatter."

This does not violate calorie balance. If wheat is "fattening" it could have a metabolic suppressive quality (e.g. lower thyroid?). Or, it could result in the development of more lean body mass in those agricultural societies. Higher BMI does not necessarily equal fatter.

Largely, I'm convinced Paul Jaminet ... obesity.

I'm looking forward to receiving a copy of Paul's book to read and review. This will be interesting. There are certainly scenarios whereby obesity is the byproduct of underlying disease, but the progression of Type 2 diabetes seems to indicate otherwise in many cases. Those NEFA's I'm so obsessed with :) ...

The obese might eat more,.... driving obesity.

Speaking of wheat, when's the last time you ate plain bread? I tend to think that much of the data and ills we assign to wheat might be what else we're consuming with it, especially where obesity is concerned. I've had a few friends diagnosed with celiac, and they all experienced weight LOSS prior to diagnosis and adopting a gluten free diet.

Re: "if our society didn't gobble the crap up... results)

Here's where I have to strongly differ with you. When I was a kid in the 60's and 70's we had sodas and Twinkies and Sugar Frosted Flakes (before they took Sugar off the box), etc. If you look at the obese, they didn't get that way eating USDA guidelines/recommendations, however misguided they may be (and I agree they ARE woefully so!). For all the low fat nonsense, we aren't eating much less (men) and even eating more (women) in absolute amounts. OK, so maybe some folks will now eat whole grains because of those stupid commercials, but they'll eat them instead of refined grains, not instead of butter! OTOH, there are fast food restaurants still rolling out new gluttonous sized meals. Why did we start drinking those big gulps? Are "all you can eat" buffets an evil invention of the government? When did two cheese burgers become the double cheeseburger? Why did McD's decide to offer these huge portions of french fries? ALL of this is consumer driven. And none of this is anywhere near *compliance* with dietary recommendations.

And some non-compliance ...I guess.

Surely there are some who will throw their hands up at all the conflicting advice and just eat what they want. Why don't they choose steak and eggs then?

Even if you start doubting ... exercise advice."

I agree! I'm not sure all of the low carb advocates are the best ambassadors either, however. Does one need to be able to successfully implement good advice to be qualified to dole it out? (Leaving out what we would define as "good"). Last time I was visiting someone in the hospital I couldn't help but notice the prevalence of weight issues amongst health professionals. There are many people eating and preaching low carb diets who don't shed excess weight and whose faces remain as chubby as Ms. Benjamin's. Even the Eades supposedly accumulated a pair of paunches prompting 6WC.

Joe Def said...

CarbSane: It is probably silly to keep going but ... Gluttony and sloth have always been with us, and if that causes obesity, then (A) gluttony and sloth began exploding in 1977. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/justin-stoneman/post_868_b_720398.html, or (B) the fat scare plus the sun scare, etc., fouled our guts/immune system.

Hypothesis (A) is somewhat countered by increased exercise and interest in health issues (even if listening to bad advice). (B) is bolstered by the fact the number of gut issues, including celiac disease has exploded since the 1970s (http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=120165).

I would hope you would at least agree autism (usually an impaired gut disease) is not caused by gluttony and sloth (http://www.autismsecrets.com/autism-symptoms/overcoming-food-obsessions), unless that of the mother. You'll notice the "cure" is often a gluten-free-casein-free diet. Curiously, grains and dairy are the workhorses of a "healthy" USDA diet. Autism is actually more prevalent among the well educated (and presumably more health conscious and less slothful).

Barry Groves' (http://barrygroves.blogspot.com/) book "Trick and Treat: how 'healthy eating' is making us ill" covers hypothesis (B) well. The vitamin D council, http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health/autism/, suggest dermatologists partly caused the autism explosion (with paid sunscreen endorsements, in effect). Groves makes similar points on sunscreen.

So, greed, rather than gluttony and sloth, is the cause of obesity. Technology/psychology/marketing/automation have multiplied the powers of the greedy.

Alex Chernavsky said...

Joe Def, can you e-mail me at alexc@aya.yale.edu? I wanted to ask you something. I can't find your contact information anywhere on your blog site, and I can't think of any other way to contact you besides posting a comment here. Thanks.

revelo said...

Joe Def writes: Basically, until the 20th century, few got fat, regardless of what they ate, high carb diet or not.

Remember those paintings of Henry VIII? Quite fat. His diet was probably mostly meat, cheese, beer, wine. Only the beer contains significant carbs. Bread (coarse-ground wholegrain back then) would have been scorned as food for the poor, oats as food for horses, and veggies as food for donkeys and sheep. The rich have always eaten an Atkins style diet, and it didn't stop them from getting fat nor from suffering from gout and other diseases of excess. Even Hippocrates recognized that most chronic disease was the result of overindulgence at the table, and I doubt he was talking about overindulgence in coarse-ground wholegrain bread.

Sanjeev said...

> Remember those paintings of Henry VIII? Quite
> fat. His diet was probably mostly meat, cheese,
> beer, wine. Only the beer contains significant
> carbs

http://www.suite101.com/content/henry-viii-s-feast-at-windsor-in-1528-part-1-a175940

Only the rich could afford a lot of sugar. There was a reason the European empires sought out all the ways to get sugar they could ... it was a high margin, high profit commodity. The rich paid handsomely for it.

Sanjeev said...

And of course this occurred to me later, a more colourful way to say it:

Marie Antoinette didn't say "let them eat cake" because she wasn't having any ... she (and her court) was, in fact, having all the cakes, and most of the sugar

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