Laura Dolson on the recent meeting of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians

*** Can you help a girl out?  Where is the traffic coming from?? Thanks! ***

In the past week, I've noticed a sustained trickle of traffic to this post of mine from over a year ago (original publish date 4/28/12) .  Therefore, rather than write another post on a somewhat older topic, I decided to bump this one and add some comments.   For most of this year I have been under attack for posts of this nature and all I can do to counter those is to point out that this post is not a personal attack.  What I've written is as respectful as can be when the subject is someone who, were she promoting veganism or McDougall's diet would be vilified and likely destroyed in the LC community.   Yet I haven't done so even though I believe Laura Dolson is deserved of some criticism for not telling the full story here.

I would like everyone to please listen to the clip here of Laura Dolson's introduction on this March 29, 2013 episode of Low Carb Conversations.  The woman introducing her is Cassie Bjork "Dietitian Cassie".  It is unedited, exactly as aired:

Now.  This is a public figure who is employed in the capacity of "expert" or "guide" by a prominent website (   Most people try LC to lose weight, let's face it ... and I'd dare say that the jury is still out and at best headed for a deadlock as to the healthfulness of various versions of the diet.  Did you get the impression that LC worked for Laura?  To drive the deception home, Cassie says {paraphrase} 'a lot of our friends have tried that other way, low fat, calorie counting, maybe that worked, lost a couple of pounds, gained weight back, maybe more, get frustrated, then they find LC and voila and how sustainable it is!'   To which Dolson responds that this is exactly what happened to her, and as if one "exactly" wasn't enough, she repeated it.

So if there's a person reading this who thinks it's out of line for me to point this out -- and doing so without hurling epithets or making fun of her looks or weight like some think is appropriate -- then there is no talking to you.  I do sometimes regret writing this when I first discussed Dolson here:
She doesn't seem to blog much about her personal story - or I just haven't made it to those posts - but when I first saw this picture on Jimmy's menus blog I was not just shocked, but horrified.
And yet I was sharing my honest reaction as someone who had hit the wall with low carb weight loss and was looking for assurances in the community.  Learning that the real faces behind the prominent blogs and valuable resources were -- almost to a one! -- obese at that time was an abomination.  This hasn't changed much if at all in the four years since.

Original post 4/28/12

full original pic link
On April 20th, the ASBP had a conference in Denver.  Many names in the LC community attended, including's Laura Dolson.   Jimmy Moore hosted a get together outside the conference and posted pictures on Twitter.   It was in those pictures I caught sight of Andrew DiMino and later Dolson.  So when I saw the CarbSmart announcement I wondered if Dolson was still writing for About and here we are with another post on hypocrisy if not downright fraud in the low carb community.   < sarcasm > It was a perfect storm if you will that sparked these unsciencey gossip posts we all know folks never visit the Asylum to read.  < /sarcasm >  

So there you have at right, a screenshot crop showing Laura Dolson, April 2012.  As it turns out, Dolson does indeed still write for About, and she filed her first report from ASBP last week.  Now again, I'm not picking on Laura because of her weight, but I am calling foul on this woman being a guide and advocate for low carb diets especially in the context of an obesity treatment conference.    Clearly, the diet is not working for her.  (For more on of my thoughts on Dolson see HERE

So Laura writes:
This year, I was impressed by these trends:
1) Many of the scientific presentations referred to benefits of low-carb diets simply as part of their talks -- as if it was an underlying assumption that low-carb diets can be helpful. This is a big change from even a few years ago. It seems that the value of low-carb diets is much more taken for granted than it used to be.
I don't suppose this should have come as a surprise when Dr. Eric Westman is President elect and Dr. Mary Vernon is a past prez or that there's some sort of relationship between ASBP and Feinman's Nutrition & Metabolism Society that piggybacks their conference with the ASBP?  I also think it's past time for proponents of LC/Atkins to drop the Rodney Dangerfield act over the usefulness of the diet.  Just about everyone acknowledges low carb is useful for weight loss (edit:  in most, but then what?).  The next trend:
2) On the other hand (but, I think, related), totally absent from the conference was the "eat less and exercise more" emphasis on calories that has been the traditional focus. Even Dr. Robin Blackstone, the bariatric surgeon who gave the keynote address, said that "we know that weight loss surgery doesn't work through calorie restriction or malabsorption, but through metabolic effects". It's all about metabolic changes, and guess what? As far as dietary changes go, carbohydrate restriction is a chief driver of these favorable effects.
Having been on my ELMM kick lately, this perked the former bunny-ears.  I find it alarming that a bariatric surgeon would say such a thing as that WLS doesn't work through calorie restriction or malabsorption because that is EXACTLY how it works.  Funny how we've been talking about that here too lately vis a vis one Carnie Wilson.  So when I Googled Blackstone it was yet another woven thought web coincidence that her name popped up being quoted in several articles on Wilson's second WLS such as this one.   Perhaps Blackstone was referring to the metabolic changes that occur prior to significant weight loss, and the promise of GBP in curing diabetes, but if the bariatric surgery profession is abandoning reality we're in trouble folks!  Regarding Carnie adding a gastric sleeve to her GBP surgery Blackstone said:  “In effect, she’s added something to her first surgery,” said, Dr. Robin Blackstone, president of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. “It gave her enough of a boost so that she could get her weight down.”  Wonder what further metabolic changes those could be .....  Oh, almost forgot, what's a bariatric surgeon doing giving the keynote speech at a meeting of a physicians organization dedicated to non-surgical treatment of obesity anyway??    Onto the next trend:
3) In addition to general mentions of carbohydrate reduction or restriction, more of the speakers mentioned what has been called the "diabetes spectrum", and that different individuals do best with different amounts of carbohydrate in their diets, depending on their degree of carb sensitivity and the amount of progression along the spectrum. I was cheered by what seems to be a strong move away from one-size fits all recommendations, as well as realizing that a low-carb diet does not mean the same thing for each person."
If only the ever militant "the right way LC diet is high fat, moderate protein, blah blah" wing living in LLVLClue had gotten this memo!  In point 4 Laura hails paleo making the stage at ASBP in one Loren Cordain.  Given as many of the studies done by Westman have been funded by the Atkins Foundation and utilized foods from Atkins Nutritionals ....  
Probably the most interesting segment of the conference for my readers took place on Friday afternoon, when we heard from experts representing four different diets and how they can cause weight loss:
  • Joel Fuhrman, who advocates tons of vegetables and fruit as the foundation of a micronutrient-rich vegan (or almost-vegan) diet
  • Loren Cordain, who famously advocates and researches the effects of the Paleo Diet (link)
  • Jeff Volek, researcher of reduced-carbohydrate diets and author or co-author of several low-carb books (although his talk focused on saturated fats)
  • Scott Rigden, who wrote a book about eating according to metabolic type, and spoke about the Mediterranean diet (turns out that the weight loss version he uses with patients is low in carbs).
Why did I excerpt this?  Well, for one, the TWICHOOB's and such must acknowledge that Fuhrman's approach, while perhaps not for them, helps many despite its relatively high carb content.  But what comes next about Fuhrman is just precious!
I could easily do a long blog post about Dr. Fuhrman's talk, but I realistically won't (it's off-topic for me, for the most part), but I did want to say a few things because it was attention-getting. Although I think it's very clear that our biology and physiology has evolved to be omnivorous (and that we would not have gotten to the point where we would have an Internet if our ancient ancestors remained vegan) I am also sure that Fuhrman is not lying when he talks about his patients who have benefitted greatly from his approach. There is definitely a lot to be said for a high-nutrient diet, which is the main reason that vegetables are at the base of my low-carb pyramid, and different people do respond to different diets. Problems come in, though, when there is an assumption that "what works for me will work for everyone".
Yeah yeah, find what works for you blah blah but carbs can kill, sugar is toxic, wheat is murder, and Hope Warshaw and Dr. Oz are criminals!   
To me, the main thing that contrasted Fuhrman with the other speakers was not only the lack of a scientific basis for his talk (I'm used to seeing lots of research cited, graphs, and explanations of biological mechanisms cited at these conferences, which Fuhrman's talk was lacking), but his throwing in loads of scientific-sounding things that gave the impression he was just making things up. This may fly when you are "preaching to the choir" and people are hanging on your every word, but it will not wash in a scientific conference.
Oh that is just so ... dripping with irony!   All those low carbers are so much more sciencey what with their graphs and made up  explanations of biological mechanisms.  So Dolson is actually admitting that she's the choir or otherwise she might scrutinize some of the erroneous things presented by low carb advocates -- as a matter of routine!  After all, if their explanations are correct, how come she's still significantly obese?  When it comes to making things up there are few low carber docs who are not guilty of this.  Mary Vernon, who apparently tried to play referee is the queen of making stuff up and making incorrect statements as fact that are easily refuted by non-controversial science.  Wake up!
I know Dr. Fuhrman was included to represent a wide spectrum (which is, in theory, a good idea), but I'm afraid he stood out like a sore thumb. Plus, he yells or borderline-yells much of time, and I find it off-putting, and, again, this was a big contrast with the other speakers and participants.
So ... LC has become so accepted that you have to invite an Atkins opponent (Fuhrman's Disease Proof website hosts quite a bit of anti-Atkins information, and I'll not defend the accuracy of much of it) to represent a wide spectrum?  It would seem one wouldn't have to question the reason Fuhrman was invited other than his success treating obesity/diabetes.  To Fuhrman's behavior, I imagine that when you're being ganged up on by dogmatists like Atkins Foundation funded  Jeff "Paul Jaminet is a nut job" Volek, you might get a little hot under the collar.  Not that it would excuse unprofessional behavior, but I'm willing to bet he was simply trying to get heard while being figuratively shouted down even if the others didn't raise their volume literally.  It's probably a good thing Gary wasn't there ;-)


bentleyj74 said…
Could she shout her denial of reality any louder? I'm bleeding from the ears here Pacino. I'm sure it''s the result of something insulin related. Maybe if she gargles some butter next time...
Unknown said…
I would find this piece more helpful if it had seven or eight graphs
Anonymous said…
It's been a while since I last visited the Atkins program website. Reading about Fuhrman (I'm a bit familiar with his food choices because Whole Foods had his diet in their stores), I wondered if there was any way to eat lots of fresh vegetables on Atkins. I was surprised: there not only is an Atkins for vegetarians, but also an Atkins for vegans!:,-Your-Diet-Plan/Atkins-for-Vegetarian.aspx
Woodey said…
Dolson is gross fat. I'm not sorry to be so blunt (I'm a big tubby myself), but come on she looks like someone who rides around in a scooter because she can't walk well. How can someone like that advocate a diet that "works" when she obviously has no clue. My God throw it back in the water before it dies. Her hypocrisy makes me ill.

Even worse these people have no shame, they flaunt their hypocrisy because they know they can get away with it. Someone did a video on Youtube called "Gary Taubes is a fraudulent liar", I'm tempted to make one of a slideshow of pics showing all the LC fraud tubbies. Jimmy already blocked me from posting on any of his Youtube videos. I guess he didn't like me being point blank in my comments about how huge he is and how he can keep leading people on.
Woodey said…
Wow! Now I have seen it all.
Unknown said…
Interesting how in that link, a serving of Fats and Oils is "1 tablespoon". Somebody should remind Jimmy that! My goodness, i can't believe he fried that french toast, which is already coated with so much heavy cream and whipping cream, in butter and still put even more butter on top o_o.

Also, I really, highly suspect that the whole "high fat, moderate protein, low carb" mantra comes from this page:

I first read this page some years back but didn't occur to me to make the connection until yesterday.
Nigel Kinbrum said…
The error that Barry Groves (and others) makes is in assuming that the body can be "persuaded" (by LCHF diet) to get virtually 100% of its energy from fat (apart from the brain, liver & red blood cells).

This just ain't so! See It's all in a day's work (as measured in Joules) Part 2.
CarbSane said…
The New Atkins book had a section for vegetarians. Here's what I said in my review of the book

Vegetarian Atkins: IMO, they should have just left this to the so-called "eco-Atkins" folks and let AtNu fight with them over the brand name. It is simply impossible to include veggie proteins into this plan and stay within carb limits. So an ovo lacto vegetarian can do the "real" Atkins by eating a lot of eggs and cheese, and Atkins just isn't for the rest.

I haven't changed my mind on this. They also included "Atkins with a Latin Beat" in that book.
CarbSane said…
Here you go :D
CarbSane said…
Welcome to the Asylum kayness! I remember that article!! Yes, in maintenance it does turn out that way because if you remain low carb calories have to come from someplace. Interestingly Sisson's sample menu (it's changed?) was only 55% fat -- so high fat, yes, but not this 75% or higher many strive for. The french toast was just sickening. I mean I love butter and have been known to eat a pat by itself, but that was almost deep fat fried french toast with more butter than I'd put on a 3 slices added atop one. This is sickening and its recipes like these that are all anyone needs to know about the source of Jimmy's weight gain. He is justifying his binging, perhaps even to himself. It's also no wonder that when he added back in veggies with mashed cauliflower he started regaining too. *sigh*
CarbSane said…
@Nigee: I don't think it's an error as much as it's a gimmick. "Fat burning" sounds great when you're trying to burn off body fat!
Bris Vegas said…
"I find it alarming that a bariatric surgeon would say such a thing as
that WLS doesn't work through calorie restriction or malabsorption
because that is EXACTLY how it works'

WRONG.Bariatric surgery DOESN'T work by calories restriction or malabsorption. It alters the appetite system by poorly understood physiological and neurological mechanisms.

International Journal of Obesity (2009) 33, S28–S32; doi:10.1038/ijo.2009.14

The mechanisms of weight loss after bariatric surgery

"Individuals are thought to have a developmentally determined adipose
‘set point’, which when perturbed invokes robust compensatory changes in
appetite and energy expenditure to offset the weight change and return
the system to its set point. Bariatric surgery seems to have found the
adipostatic system's Achilles heel, and hence may offer insights into
the secret of long-term substantial weight loss. The altered endocrine
response plays a part, and the alteration to short-term visceral
feedback caused by revised vagal innervation may also be important.
Whatever the mechanism, bariatric surgery seems to favourably affect the
energy regulatory system at multiple levels, achieving a new, lower,
adipostatic set point. In the context of our current search to find
effective therapies to stem the rising tide of obesity, it seems we may
have a cure. We just do not understand how it works yet."
carbsane said…
A person who undergoes GBP physically cannot eat a lot of food -- they throw up. They also require supplements, etc. because of absorption issues. This is what causes the weight loss. Indeed most candidates need to demonstrate an ability to adhere to a restricted diet for a period before the surgery. NOW ... that it is sustainable and persists for considerable weight loss in many vs. diet alone may well have to do with appetite regulation, etc. Clearly the diabetes remissions are clues that something profound on the hormonal front is going on.

It is quite common (I think the recidivism rates are downplayed perhaps because the time frame is usually set at 5 years which seems to be about the time when those who do regain begin to do so as they learn to "eat around" their surgeries) for GBP to gain back the weight. Perhaps it is as simple as some have suggested, a matter of whether the vagal nerve was impacted by the surgery. They either stretch their stomach back out or consume lots of caloric liquids. I don't know what happened now with Carnie Wilson who had gastric sleeve after she regained considerable weight from her GBP surgery. I know quite a few people IRL for whom the regain was complete or considerable.

Katie Jay ( used to participate for a while at Jimmy's forum. There were a few post-WLS folks who showed up there from time to time. I imagine it must quite frightening to start regaining despite having undergone such a drastic surgery.

Let's face it -- weight LOSS is not the issue or the mystery for most with obesity. Yes, I know from personal experience that the higher the starting weight the more futile the process seems, etc. But what we -- rather depressingly -- learn from GBP is that even if you can "reset" someone in a relatively short time, it is the maintenance that remains elusive.

Now perhaps this points to finding what it is that is different about those for whom GBP "stuck" , but the weight loss was from calorie reduction and malabsorption though the latter is likely less significant.
Sanjeev Sharma said…
> WRONG.Bariatric surgery DOESN'T work by calories restriction or malabsorption

Hey Mr. Science, where does what you quoted support this aggressive positive assertion?

The aggressive, committed, "no way this can possibly be wrong" tone of your assertion is completely contrary to the load of reservations and qualifications in your quote.

Within your quote, do you not see the "thought to have", "surgery seems to have" Mr. Education?
Mary Lewis said…
Hannah said…
Lol awesome. I was googling "How Robert Atkins died", and came across
this passive aggressive article by a Laura Dobsen. Okay, she writes
about low carb diets, now let's see how that's going for her, *google
image searches* >> ends up here.
This is so ridiculous to me..
all these low carb guru's with so many extra kilo's on their bodies,
living with low degrees of health. Sure low carb can make people lose
weight faster than a healthy diet, but that's because it's starving your
cells of it's preferred fuel source! How is that okay with people? I
think it's just a case of humans loving to hear good things about their
bad habits. A low carb diet, if you are overweight and it causes you to
lose weight, will then improve some of your health stats. It's not all
bad news black and white. But as a way of life I can tell just by
looking at pictures of it's practicioners that it's not the optimal diet
for human beings. Google "Low carb cruise" and look at the pictures of
the people that attend this cruise, look at their weight, skin, glow,
and then google "Holistic Holiday at Sea" (a vegan cruise), and look at
the youtube video of its participants. It is just an indication
obviously, but it's simple and I think shows the health outcomes long
term of these contrasting diets for humans.
carbsane said…
Low Carb! Be less unhealthy than on the SAD. Seems to be the slogan :)