Tom Naughton Doubles Down on Kooky Kalorie Klaims for Fat Head Kids


I have to say this.  Sorry, not sorry.  If you have children, and you want to help them with nutrition and health as they grow, teach them about food and teach them how to cook.   Get your own weight and health under control (if it's a problem) so that you can pass down good habits to your children.  Or do nothing.  None of my business.  But whatever you do, do not buy your child a copy of Fat Head Kids or let them within 50 yards of a showing of the Fat Head Kids movie if it ever comes out.  Put a block on your Hulu or whatever streaming service it is eventually on.  I cannot recommend more strongly against this.

Every time I have watched snippets of some video of Tom talking about this book, or read the preview content on Amazon, I just get utterly creeped out by the whole thing, and Tom Naughton specifically.  Books for children should not include shirtless pictures of the middle aged author who goes on about boy boobs.  

Tom seems to be working through his unresolved childhood issues and perhaps even ongoing body image issues, and has a weird obsession with "moobs".  How else to explain a chapter entitled "Bad Food Makes Boy Boobs"??   Never mind that this topic is irrelevant to half of his prospective audience and his own two children.  

Going through puberty is rough enough on most kids, and we *really* don't need certain foods demonized as the cause of awkward changes that are far more likely to be attributable to genetics and the hormonal chaos of growing up?   But yes, the Standard American Diet (the real one, not the recommended one) can surely add more pounds to exacerbate things.

The reality is that a surprisingly high percentage of boys develop "boobs" in puberty, and in most cases it resolves itself.  Or from a more lay friendly source:
All individuals, whether male or female, possess both female hormones (estrogens) and male hormones (androgens). During puberty, levels of these hormones may fluctuate and rise at different levels, resulting in a temporary state in which estrogen concentration is relatively high. Studies regarding the prevalence of gynecomastia in normal adolescents have yielded widely varying results, with prevalence estimates as low as 4% and as high as 69% of adolescent boys. These differences probably result from variations in what is perceived to be normal and the different ages of boys examined in the studies.
Gynecomastia caused by transient changes in hormone levels with growth usually disappears on its own within six months to two years. Occasionally, gynecomastia that develops in puberty persists beyond two years and is referred to as persistent pubertal gynecomastia.

Newsflash:  Tom Naughton is also not the only teen, of either gender, with or without boobs or boy boobs, who got "fat" as they went through puberty.  I'm sorry for his gym class experiences, but they have nothing to do with this!  Also, don't get me started on that spaceship.  Just ... no.

OK ... now that I got that off my chest.  

About four months ago, I wrote Tom FatHead Naughton's Kooky thermodenyiK Katastrophy about some claims made in his aforementioned book (and upcoming movie).   Here's the page in the book that I was addressing.

In that previous post I highlighted two anti-CICO arguments Naughton made in a post:
In the book, we mention a study in which obese people were locked in a hospital and fed 600 calories per day. They didn’t lose weight. The researchers referred to them as “the resistant obese” and admitted they seemed to be “thermodynamic paradoxes.” In other words, it didn’t seem possible their very large bodies could slow down to the point of burning no more than 600 calories per day, and yet somehow they did.
I said, "show me the studies!" ... and you guys came through in comments.   First, someone named camber identified this study as one in 1959 by Gordon.  I'm pretty sure this is the study.  A Google scholar search turning up this paper (I'm having no luck getting full text and would be forever grateful if anyone can do that for me!!) and here's the Google excerpt from the search:
... Assum- ing no gross errors, these patients appear to be, as Gordon puts it,

"thermodynamic paradoxes." If the lack of weight loss can be accounted for by a

retention of water, the question then arises as to why the water is retained. ...
Camber  clearly identified the right study (even if my link is wrong) and included the following two comments transcribing from the journal:

EDIT 5:30 pm 8/16/2017  HERE is the study camber was quoting from:  NEFA in the blood of lean and obese people.

          Comment 1:
Re-reading the paper and discussion, I wouldn't just say it presents a weak case for refuting CICO. It is actually not a case at all, just a single assertion in the main text body: "On the right, curves from four "resistant obese" subjects show the characteristic flat curve at an elevated level; all had very small appetites and none of these subjects lost weight even during observation in the hospital for prolonged periods of time"
That assertion without other information in a single sentence is it.
The figure referred to isn't important because the four "resistant obese" aren't really different in fatty acids over a day fast. The discussion bit is just tentatively repeating the assertion to colleagues while adding the 600 cal/d bit (they don't really bite).
Someone reading that looking for anti-CICO data might read into it that it was equivalent to a metabolic ward study with strict calorie intake, I would strongly doubt that but really it is unknowable based on that sentence.
But I don't want to criticise Dr Gordon. It looks to me he found a few patients in 1959 that didn't lose weight on some sort of hospital program whether inpatient or outpatient and got a bit excited that maybe there was something interesting there. As a scientist that kind of thing is what keeps you going and not getting a real job, reality nearly always intervenes though (as it should). 
Comment 2:
I do have full access to that journal. I am amazed at the thin thread linking modern assertions to these old articles. This is an appended transcript of some doctors apparently at a conference in 1960 making some casual side discussion on the actual paper about fatty acids. It can be summarised as thus: (Doctor A wrote the paper)
Doctor A: As an aside to my paper, as physicians we see obese patients on 600 cal a day that don't lose weight. When we measure their basal metabolic rates it is greater than 600 cal/d. Yet they don't lose weight. What a thermodynamic paradox!.
Doctor B: Water loss is not uniform and accounts for temporary paradoxic observations.
Doctor C: If our bodies were more efficient, we should be able to survive on 600 cal a day based on my current calculations! I don't see why we couldn't unless we live in a cold place
Doctor A: To tell the truth I don't think I could not lose weight on 600 cal/d
Doctor D: You all do realise that water variations are so massive compared to other weight variations that measurements are very problematic.
Nobody asks Doctor A whether these are his patients and how he knew they were REALLY on 600 cal/d.

Bottom Line:  This was NOT a metabolic ward study where intake was rigorously controlled (and verified) demonstrating a thermodynamic paradox.  

Indeed, given current knowledge, supported by many such actual metabolic ward studies, Naughton ought not even be mentioning this IN ANY CONTEXT.   Indeed since Naughton is one of the worst at defaming Ancel Keys and accusing him of cherry picking, one really wonders how it is that Tom is so emboldened to cherry-pick "studies" that didn't even involve any rigorous measure of intake/expenditure to essentially lie to children.  It's not like there aren't enough metabolic ward studies, including some recent ones, there are tens of them.  But more than that there have been several mass-media "exposés" if you will demonstrating massive errors in self-reported intake, usually under-reporting, secret eating, and the like.

WHY is it so important to people like Tom to misrepresent the scientific evidence?

At the end of this post I'll include the comments on a second study mentioned in the older posts, where two people also emailed both Naughton and Lustig for clarification.  But to keep on point of this particular study ...

For some reason Naughton has come out with not one, but two new posts about calories.  You get the usual repetition of carb-rich strawman arguments against the "Piggy Bank" theory of CICO.   All of which really just serves to confuse the issue.    There's really no need to rehash it all again, but Tom seems to have a bee in his bonnet over this issue.  I can only hope it is due to backlash over his horrific book, but somehow doubt that.  Here's where Tom brings up this "study" once again:

The real problem with The Piggy Bank Theory is that it gives people who don’t know what the @#$% they’re talking about a license to be judgmental jackasses. It allows them to assume that anyone who gains weight or fails to lose weight is simply eating too much and could therefore lose weight by just eating normally. That’s nonsense. Here’s a quote from the book:

In a study from the 1960s, researchers wrote about obese patients who were locked in a hospital and fed just 600 calories each day. That’s about one-fourth as much as most adults eat. And yet the obese patients didn’t lose weight. Is that because of a flaw in their character? Should they only eat 300 calories per day? Or 200?

The researchers, by the way, referred to these people as the resistant obese and thermodynamic paradoxes. They were at a complete loss to explain how anyone could stay fat on 600 calories per day.  But they did.

This is a total misrepresentation of the study.  Furthermore, where's the critical thinking here, because in this day and age there is irrefutable evidence that this cannot happen.  Perhaps in a coma?  Maybe?   I don't think TDEEs even go that low in that state.

Mr. Naughton, when you were an overweight cruise ship comedian, you ate too much.  Your friend Jimmy Moore is morbidly obese because he eats WAY too much.  I was morbidly obese because I ate too much.  The population of our country on the whole eats too much.  And it's not low fat by any stretch of the imagination, but that's another issue.   The obese notoriously under-report intake.  NHANES bears that out.  You know who also notoriously mis-reports intake?  Anorexics.  Only they tend to claim to eat more than they do.  Funny how that works.   There is no "judgmental jackassitude" involved here in stating the facts as they are.  

Now I have a sneaking suspicion Tom read my previous post.  He should have, and the comments section.  He was emailed -- and responded -- regarding the studies he uses in the book.  I realize it's too late to change that book now, but he could always do the right thing and just pull it from the shelves.  At the very least, he has been informed that the above characterization of Gordon's work is completely in error.    But later in his above quoted post he says this:

The concentration camp argument
If there’s one argument that makes me want to smack the person offering it, that’s the one.

Well, no fat people ever walked out of a concentration camp, so that proves it’s all about the calories! Huh? Huh? I bet you crazy low-carbers never thought of that one!
Ehhhhhh …
Yes, we’ve thought of that one. Here’s a quote from Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes:
Yes, it’s true: If you are stranded on a desert island and starved for months on end, you will waste away, whether you’re fat or thin to begin with. Even if you are just semi-starved, your fat will melt away, as will a good share of your muscle. Try the same prescription in the real world, though, and try to keep it up indefinitely – try to maintain the weight loss – and it works very rarely indeed.
There’s a reason it rarely works: it’s true that no fat people ever walked out of a concentration camp. It’s also true that no healthy, happy people with well-functioning metabolisms ever walked out of a concentration camp. The only reason they could be starved into an emaciated state is that THEY WERE LOCKED INSIDE A CONCENTRATION CAMP, YOU @#$%ING MORON!
There, I think that more or less expresses how I feel about it.

Me:  raises hand.  From the post where I challenged his 600 cal/day study:
As everyone knows, there were droves of victims emerging from Nazi concentration camps weighing more than when they entered.

By the way, Naughton defends the above charlatan, and the community as a whole totally ignored that he knowingly went on the notorious David Duke's podcast almost 5 years ago.  But in strange fashion, it always seems to be Tom who reminds people of Jimmy Moore's transgressions in a most passive-aggressive way.  No.  Call him out.  I didn't dress him up like that, that's Naughton roasting his good friend!  

Getting back to the concentration camp argument, again with the strawman interpretation of it.  The concentration camp argument is very straight forward.  It blows to smitherines all of these excuses that people use as to why they are unable to lose weight and keep it off, including:
  • I'm not eating very much: I've seen a 500 lb woman claim that she eats under 500 cal/day for days on end without losing weight.  But when you starve people they become emaciated.  E.V.E.R.Y.  T.I.M.E.
  • Lack of sleep is making fat accumulate on my body:  I really doubt there was high quality sleep in those camps.
  • Oh the STRESSSS! :  Yeah the stress of driving 4 hours is enough to derail Jimmy Moore, but those camps were really more like meditative retreats allowing their bodies to access stored fat.
  • I'd go into starvation mode and maybe even gain if I ate less because my metabolic rate will go even lower!  :  Umm, no.  It doesn't work that way despite Tom's misrepresentation of a mouse study on the next page of that horrible book.
Let's cut the crap.  But OH THE IRONY!   
"The only reason they could be starved into an emaciated state is that THEY WERE LOCKED INSIDE A CONCENTRATION CAMP, YOU @#$%ING MORON!"
And yet:

"obese patients who were locked in a hospital and fed just 600 calories each day. ... [researchers] were at a complete loss to explain how anyone could stay fat on 600 calories per day.  But they did [not lose weight].

Who exactly is the moron here???  

For Posterity:

When I interviewed Dr. Robert Lustig for the film, he mentioned a study in which obese kids were locked in a hospital for a month and fed 500 calories per day. They GAINED weight during that month — on 500 calories per day. I don’t see how any sane person could say they just needed to eat less because, you know, it’s all about calories in vs. calories out. Thermodynamics, doncha know.
On this one, Charles Grashow emailed Tom who, amazingly, responded.  Here's the comment:
 I e-mailed Tom Naughton and asked him about the Lustig paper quoted in the movie
His response
Lustig was on camera for the interview and will appear in the film version. I'm a pretty good animator, but not good enough to make it look like he said words he didn't actually say. This is exact transcript of that portion of the interview:
Lustig: I ended up in obesity by taking care of kids with brain tumors. These kids, because of their brain tumor, after their therapy became massively obese. They would gain 30 to 40 pounds a year nonstop, no matter what they did. George Bray, the father of obesity research in America, in 1975 admitted eight of these kids to his local clinical research center. Threw them in the CRC. Locked them up, threw away the key, and for one month, fed them 500 calories a day. What do you think their weight did over one month 
Tom: Dropped.
Lustig: Their weight went up on 500 calories a day. Because of their brain damage, these kids would rather store energy than burn it. The reason? They could not see the hormone leptin coming from the fat cells to the brain. Their brain was in constant starvation mode. So, they would take those 500 calories they ate every day, and they would still store them rather than burn them.
Now here is where I'm just in disbelief.  This Edutainer, writing a book to (re)educate kids, just let this load of BS stand at this???  But Charles took it to Lustig too
 "When I interviewed Dr. Robert Lustig for the film, he mentioned a study in which obese kids were locked in a hospital for a month and fed 500 calories per day. They GAINED weight during that month — on 500 calories per day. I don’t see how any sane person could say they just needed to eat less because, you know, it’s all about calories in vs. calories out. Thermodynamics, doncha know."
So - I e-mailed Dr Lustig and asked him to give me the name of the study.
This is the study he sent me 
Mainfestations Of Hypothalamic Obesity In Man: A Comprehensive Investigation Of Eight Patients And A Review Of The Literature
George A. Bray & Thomas F. Gallagher, Jr. 
BTW - the patients ranged in age from 4 1/2 to 55 years of age. Only 3 were younger than 22 SO they weren't all KIDS.
That link gives you the full text.  Lustig is factually challenged.  ANY critical thinker can easily discern this FACT.    But again we have a bust.  If you follow that comment string, Matt S emailed both Lustig and Naughton.    I don't care who got it wrong, it is immaterial.    If you're educating others you get your facts straight.  Neither of these two studies should be the backbone of someone's arguments re: calories.   Especially when you're talking to kids.  You have an extra special onus to be honest, something low carbers in the industry seem incapable of at this point!