GCBC Reference Check ~ Part VI of ? ~ The Massa

With full attribution to Stephan Guyenet:

Northern Cameroon, 1980s.  The Massas tribe (also spelled Massa) is known for its overfeeding ritual called Guru Walla, which Taubes describes in GCBC:
The Massa tribe of northern Cameroon fattens their males using both milk and a porridge made from sorghum, a corn-like grain that provides sweet syrup from the stalk. One man gained seventy-five pounds on a ceremonial binge. The average weight gain tends to be fifteen to twenty pounds using milk and porridge.  The Massa are cattle herders and their staple diet is primarily milk. This fattening comes about by the addition of carbohydrates (sorghum) almost exclusively.
Taubes states here that the typical diet is "primarily milk", therefore by inference, low in carbohydrate.  Let's follow his reference and see what it says.  It leads to a freely accessible paper by Drs. Igor de Garine and Georgius J.A. Koppert titled "Guru Fattening Sessions Among the Massa" (30).  The Massas indeed herd cattle, but "their main use is not as food."  The typical diet (not during overfeeding) is described as containing 516 grams of carbohydrate per day, and only 32 grams of fat (Table VIII).  The typical diet is 81% carbohydrate, and primarily based on sorghum, according to Taubes's own reference.  This account is consistent with other freely accessible references in respected peer-reviewed journals (31).  These people are lean on their typical high-carbohydrate fare until they deliberately overconsume a mixture of sorghum and milk.

Yet another instance of Taubes' references not saying that which he claims.  I'm beginning to see a pattern here.  


Duffy Pratt said…
I thought at first this might be an example where the deceit comes from saying things that are literally true, and leaving other relevant facts out. It turns out, however, that there is a direct falsehood in Taube's statement. He says that the feast increased carbohydrate consumption almost exclusively. Table VIII in the reference shows that it increased carbs by 160 grams, of which 4 come from fiber. And that it also increased Fat and Protien by over 50 grams each. The extra calories from the carb increase is less than the extra calories from the fat and protein. And the extra calories from the fat alone is almost as much as those from the carbs. Under any stretch of the word, the change in diet is not "almost exclusively" an increase in carbs.
CarbSane said…

I think the Newsholme & Start reference problem was the most damning of the ones I've uncovered. The text flat out says there's no evidence for the theory he mentions in GCBC and expanded upon in lecture after lecture.

It may have gotten skewed a bit by his audience, but this erroneous notion that w/o carbs you can't store fat is his doing. And he has made no effort to set the record straight in no uncertain terms in writing -- only weasely "I was wrong but really it wasn't me it was the text books that were wrong and I was only going by what they said" comments on Jimmy Moore podcasts. He lamented on that podcast not having a blog on which to communicate directly. Well it's been over 8 months since he's had one and he's still not corrected this. There is no excuse for this. None.
AL-209 said…
Anyone got this going round in their head?

...Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies.
Tell me lies.
Tell me tell me lies.
Oh no, no, you can't disguise...

Man I love fleetwood mac.
Diana said…
This reminds me of a custom in Mauritania called gavage, described here:


I know that the members of the "Church" will say that millet and milk will make you fat because of the carbs. I say it's the force-feeding of huge amounts of these foods that makes them fat. The dose, not the medicine.